Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

Why Be Spiritual? Five Benefits of Spirituality

Spiritual people are gracious, optimistic, compassionate, and self-actualized.

Spiritualism--a search for something sacred--is an increasingly important topic to people today. Individuals approach the realm of spirituality through religion, meditation, yoga, or even personal reflection. In a recent study we conducted in my lab, using the data we collected on BeyondThePurchase.org, we investigated the personal and societal benefits of spiritualism by examining participants' responses to over 30 surveys. Here are the top five positive characteristics of spiritual people:

Why be Spiritual?
Spiritual people are gracious. Psychology has demonstrated that expressing gratitude is associated with many positive emotions such as optimism, being generous with time and resources, and overall vitality. Spirituality encourages people to be positive, which may be expressed in many of these life practices.

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Spiritual people are compassionate. Experiencing compassion toward others is one the strongest correlates with living a spiritual life. A variety of positive or pro-social emotions have strong links with spiritualism, including allowing one to feel good about the little things in life and look at the world through empathetic eyes.

Spiritual people flourish. Spirituality is linked to many important aspects of human functioning--spiritual people have positive relationships, high self-esteem, are optimistic, and have meaning and purpose in life. 

Spiritual people self-actualize. Spiritual individuals strive toward a better life and consider personal growth and fulfillment as a central goal. Spirituality can be considered to be a path toward self-actualization, because it requires people to focus on their internal values and work on becoming a better individual.

Spiritual people take time to savor life experiences. Individuals who value spirituality take the time to reflect on their daily activities and ultimately build lasting memories of their experiences. Because spiritual people are more conscious of small, daily activities, they experience positive emotions associated with the smaller pleasures in life.

To better understand the benefits of specific consumer choices, we continue to investigate the relationships between consumer preferences, psychological needs, happiness, and values at our website. At BeyondThePurchase.Org we help people make the connection between their spending habits – how do you spend your money and who do you spend it on – and their happiness. To learn about what might be influencing how you think about and spend your money, Login or Register with Beyond The Purchase, then take a few of our spending habits quizzes:

What do you value in your daily life? Take the Schwartz Values Scale where you can compare your values on 10 dimensions from hedonism to benevolence.

Which spending decisions will make you happiest? Take our Spending Choices and Happiness survey and on your feedback page you will learn how to spend your money to be happier.

How happy are you these days? Take our Happiness and Life Satisfaction quiz and find out your happiness score.

With these insights, you can better understand the ways in which your daily decisions affect your happiness.

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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