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Connected at church, happy with life

Religion aids well-being via church-based friendships, survey shows

When it comes to feeling good about one’s life, friendliness is next to godliness.

Personal well-being blossoms among U.S. adults who strongly identify with their religion, regularly attend church and have three or more close friends in their congregation, say sociologists Chaeyoon Lim of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Robert Putnam of Harvard University.

Members of this devoutly connected group cite especially high levels of life satisfaction regardless of how many or how few friends they have outside their congregation, Lim and Putnam report in the December American Sociological Review.

“Our evidence shows that it is not really going to church and listening to sermons or praying that makes people happier, but making church-based friends and building social networks there,” Lim says.

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