Studies reveal that individuals who live a spiritual life or practice a faith in God, live longer, are happier, heal faster and recover more quickly from mental and physical pain.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Nearly every practice of religion has some form of confession or reconciliation. Researchers have noted that confession and reconciliation leads to less guilt and more gratitude. In studies, those who are grateful were shown to have less depression and stress.9,10
People that are grateful are less likely to avoid problems and less likely to deny that there are problems.11 Individuals that have greater gratitude in their lives also express more satisfaction in interpersonal relationships and are generally more satisfied with life.12,13 Grateful people accept themselves, have increased self-control and find greater purpose in life.14,15
Spirituality, even that which is associated with God or religion, increases gratitude in nearly every area of life.16 Researchers have found that those who are grateful cope with difficulties and challenges of life more positively and focus more on fixing a problem than focusing on the problem itself.17
On the matter of prevention of alcohol and drug abuse, adults and teenagers that attend church regularly have significantly less drinking, smoking and drug use.18,19,20,21 Teens who do not attend religious services regularly, are nearly twice as likely to engage in smoking, nearly 3 times more likely to engage in binge drinking, are more likely to use marijuana and nearly 4 times more likely to use other drugs.22
Researchers found that students without religious affiliation engage in drinking more than those who consider themselves members of Christian denominations.23
Furthermore, addicts that look back on their recovery, reported that the lack of a Higher Power (or God) was a reason for their increased problems.24
Additionally, engaging in spiritual practices, such as prayer and meditation, can make “long-term” changes the brain. One study showed that prayer and meditation contributed to permanent “empathetic changes.”25 The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for decision-making, is activated in people during prayer and meditation.26 This results in better choices, more empathy, increased self-control, gratefulness and pro-social behaviors.