Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that people who attended weekly religious services or practiced daily prayer or meditation in their youth reported greater life satisfaction and positivity in their 20s--and were less likely to subsequently have depressive symptoms, smoke, use illicit drugs, or have a sexually transmitted infection--than people raised with less regular spiritual habits. Results of the study is published the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices," said first author Ying Chen, who recently completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Chan School. "Many children are raised religiously, and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being."
Spiritual practices are found to positively contribute to happiness, volunteering, a greater sense of mission and purpose, and to forgiveness.