Religion's Secret to Happiness:
It's Friends, Not Faith
12.12. 2010Some might argue that it is the power of faith in a being or power beyond ourselves. But according to a study led by Chaeyoon Lim, a sociology professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, the reason religion makes us happy may have more to do with friends than with faith. (More on Time.com: Retirement May Make You Happier, Depending on Where You Retire)
As Lim noted in a statement describing his findings:To me, the evidence substantiates that it is not really going to church and listening to sermons or praying that makes people happier, but making church-based friends and building intimate social networks there.”
The results support the idea that friends and acquaintances can have a powerful, even contagious effect on our health. In other work conducted by Dr. Nicholas Christakis at Harvard Medical School and John Fowler of University of California, San Diego, it's clear that our social network, regardless of how close or distant we are to the people in them, can influence our health. Christakis and Fowler showed that even people separated from you by up to three degrees can influence your weight, your happiness, or even whether you quit smoking or are prone to loneliness.