Study: Happiness is having friends at church

Attending religious services regularly and having close friends in the congregation are key to having a happier, more satisfying life, a study finds.

Even attending services irregularly — just several times a year — increases a sense of well-being, so long as there is a circle of friendships within the community and a strong, shared religious identity.

That’s the key finding of a study released today in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

For the study, Lim and co-author Robert Putnam analyzed data collected during 2006 and 2007 as part of the Faith Matters Study, a nationwide survey of a representative sample of adults.

The survey, examining the various ways that religion affects American society, is the focus of the recently released book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Putnam and David Campbell.

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This post was last updated: Dec. 7, 2010