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Those who attend religious cults at least once a week, have a 29% greater chance of living longer that those who don’t. This was the result of a major research divulged in 2009, which revisited 42 studies on the role of spirituality in health. It involved 126,000 people.

Those who practice religion demonstrate greater commitment to personal health. They visit the dentist regularly, take their prescription medication, drink and smoke less. The study confirmed what a 2001 populational study conducted by the National Center of Drug Addiction and Abuse in the United States already showed. Adults who do not consider religion important consume more alcohol and drugs. It’s the real version of the Simpsons and their stereotyped exaggerations. Homer, the main character in the cartoon, doesn’t care for any religion, is obese and an alcoholic. Contrary to his neighbor Ned Flanders, who is regimented, has perfect health and a lean body.

Staying in line is more common among believers and the reason resides in their self-control power, according to scientists. “Faith facilitates the difficult task of postponing rewards, something that’s fundamental and routine, from dieting to studying for contests,” says psychologist Michael McCullough, professor at the University of Miami and Harold Koenig’s partner in spirituality studies.

Happiness. Faith also has a relationship with happiness. A European study showed that spiritual people are more satisfied. The atheists are more likely to lean towards pessimism precisely on account of their objective take on life. They do not believe in divine providence that can change the course of events at the flick of a finger.

Religions foster something essential in human beings: a spirit of community. The devout normally are not alone. For Andrew Clark – one of the authors of this European study and a professor at the School of Economics in Paris – religions help people overcome shocks or at least not become so desperate with the setbacks in life.

According to the study, the drop in the well-being indicator was smaller among unemployed religious people than non-religious people. “Religion offers ‘protection’ against unemployment,” says Clark. “When things get tough, there’s always someone there to give a helping hand.”

Solidarity. A study conducted by the University of Michigan compared two forms of help for the third age; from churches and state social services. The discrepancy in favor of religious support was so significant that the author of the study, gerontologist Neal Krause, believes there`s something unique in this type of support.

Even the atheists are benefited by the solidarity spirit offered by religious institutions. A study conducted by Clark investigated the effect of religiousness on the well-being of the community. The discovery was intriguing. People with no religion from mostly atheist regions are less happy than those without religion in areas where the majority of the population proclaims a faith. “This is not good for the atheists: they seem less happy and they also make the others less happy,” says Clark. The explanation for this can be in the compassion incentivized by religions. British writer and former nun Karen Armstrong, author of more than 20 books on the theme, believes that the principal of compassion is at the core of all religious traditions. It’s what needs us to think of others and to do everything to alleviate their pain and suffering. Click here for the full article.