Does Spirituality Make You Happy?

Here is an interesting study on how spirituality may potentially affect one’s happiness factor….or how likely it is that one may be depressed.

The findings across many of these studies seem to suggest that (not surprisingly to many of OUR readers I’m sure..:-) that the greater importance you place on being spiritual, or even religious….the LESS Likely it is that you will suffer from depression. Even MORE interesting….is it appears that our brains are different from folks who don’t have a spiritual foundation, with literally the areas of our brains that are responsible for emotions like happiness, sadness and so forth, seeming to be “stronger” for spiritual types than those who are not.

Meditation of course, is well known now to be able to affect our brains in powerfully positive ways (something called neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to re-wire itself through practices like mindfullness, meditation, prayer and otherwise)

Check out the article at the link following the short excerpt….OR share how your brain benefits from spiritual practice in our community comments section below!

A recent study from Columbia University has found that there is a strong correlation between how highly someone values spirituality and religion, and the structure of their brains in regions associated with depression. According to lead researcher Lisa Miller, participants who reported that spirituality and religion were of high personal importance had thicker than average cortices in regions where cortical thinning has been linked to a high risk of depression.
The 103 study participants were divided into two groups – a “high-risk” group with a hereditary predisposition to depression, and a “low-risk” group with no family history of depression. Twice over the course of five years, the researchers evaluated the level of importance that participants placed on religion and spirituality, including church attendance. During the second evaluation, the researchers used MRI scans to take anatomical measurements of cortical thicknesses.

Another interesting finding was that the effects of “spiritual importance” on cortical thickness were significantly stronger in participants in the “high-risk” group than they were in the “low-risk” group. This effect was most pronounced on the mesial wall of the left hemisphere, which is the same region where a significantly thinner cortex has been associated with a hereditary predisposition to depression. This is a promising finding that suggests that spirituality and religion could potential play a role in combating depression, especially amongst those genetically at risk.

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