A new study in Europe suggests that joining a religious group could do more for someone's "sustained happiness" than other forms of social participation, such as volunteering, playing sports, or taking a class, The Star website reports today (August 16, 2015).
The study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion.
"The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness later in life," Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist and an author of the study, said in a statement.
Researchers looked at four areas in the study: volunteering or working with a charity; taking educational courses; participating in religious organizations; and participating in a political or community organization. Of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness, researchers found.