The medieval Persian poet Rumi once penned: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” What timeless spiritual wisdom has always taught to humanity, current findings in brain science appear to hold truth. Humans are driven to seek joy; we are driven to pursue what enlivens the soul.
At the core of all the world’s religions resides a universal spirituality that advocates how the search for meaning and the seeking of wisdom are a path to achieve happiness. Whether it’s meditation, contemplation, prayer, chanting, or sacred ritual, they provide the portal for discovering the soul and our source for happiness.
Science now affirms this to be accurate. Time magazine reports that a 2015 study—conducted by the London School of Economics and the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands—found that people who have a regular spiritual practice or belong to a religious group report greater levels of happiness, as well as lesser depression and anxiety than those who don’t
According to the same Time article, “It’s as if a sense of spirituality and an active, social religious practice were an effective vaccine against the virus of unhappiness.” Why would this be the case? As I discuss in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain, the four strategies for a Happy Brain are: Comfort, Contribution, Connection, and Compassion. In many ways, spirituality and religion provide comfort to us in times of struggle; allow us to feel a sense of contribution in the world; offer to us the opportunity for connection with others; and help us to cultivate greater compassion in life.
The idea behind why spirituality and religion act as agents for promoting happiness can best be summed up by one word—resilience! The 4 Cs of Comfort, Contribution, Connection, and Compassion help us to achieve resilience in our brain, body, and being. The more we operate from a place of resilience, the more easily it becomes to live from our soul and experience joy in all we do.