Religion Leads to a Merrier Christmas; Spirituality Key to Happiness

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Who has the merriest Christmas?

It's just as the old country pastor says: Those who keep the Christ in Christmas have the most satisfying holiday.

"Religious people are happier than those without spirituality in their life," notes a new study from Britain's University of Warwick.

And those who keep their religious practices intact at yuletide, the study found, are happier than those who rely on the pleasures of shopping for their holiday meaning.

The researchers based their conclusion on surveys of 57 men and 44 women from Britain who completed complex questionnaires meant to establish "a link between Christianity and happiness."

And establish it, they did.

"Religious people seem to have a greater purpose in life, which is why they are happier," noted project director and psychologist Stephen Joseph on Monday.

"Looking at the research evidence," he continued, "it seems those who celebrate the Christian meaning of Christmas are, on the whole, likely to be happier. The research shows that too much materialism in our lives can be terrible for happiness."

Mr. Joseph also said people who foster a sense of community through charitable donations and helping others also proved happier than those just looking to fatten up their own pocketbooks.

"Christmas is a reminder of that message," he added.

Still, Americans are shopping more than ever. They will spend a predicted $217 billion in the next few weeks, according to the National Retail Federation, up almost 6 percent from last year.

Myvesta, a Rockville-based financial-counseling service, breaks the shopping down even further. The average shopper will shell out $835 this year, up from $722 a year ago, according to its analysis. …