SMALL GROUPS & What’s the secret to happiness? Scientists may have found the answer: involvement in a group.

by Mark Molloy, London Telegraph Newspaper, 5/20/16.

The pursuit of happiness can be a lifelong search for some – but researchers believe they may have found a key factor in feeling a greater overall sense of wellbeing.Individuals who feel a strong sense of belonging to social groups are much happier people, according to new research by psychologists.

Nottingham Trent University researchers found that the more an individual identified with a particular group, such as family, in their local community or through a hobby, the happier they were with their life. “Our findings suggest that thinking more about one’s group life could have significant benefits for an overall sense of wellbeing,” said Dr Juliet Wakefield, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent University. “We tend to identify with groups that share our values, interests and life priorities, as well as those that support us in times of crisis, and we can see how this would link to happiness. Our work taps into knowledge that is deep within all of us, but which we often forget due to the fast-paced and achievement-focused nature of modern life – that to be your best self, you tend to require the support of others.”

They studied how 4,000 participants felt connected to certain groups, and then measured the impact this had upon their levels of happiness. She added: “It’s important to note that identifying with a group isn’t the same as membership, though. You can be a member of a group with which you feel no connection at all. It’s that subjective sense of belonging that’s crucial for happiness.

“Healthcare professionals should encourage people to join groups that they are interested in, or which promote their values and ideals, as well as advising people to maintain association with groups they already belong to. Simple social interventions such as this could in turn help to reduce NHS expenditure and prevent future ill health.”

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FAITH & Losing your faith is bad for your health #PennStateUniv

By the editors, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 24 Sep 2010. Losing your faith is bad for your health, a new study suggests.

Leaving a strict religion makes people more likely to live unhealthily, with an increase in drinking and smoking, as well as becoming more susceptible to negativity and stress.

It can also lead to losing friends and acquaintances who remain devout, said Christopher Scheitle, of Penn State university.

He said: “Strict groups typically require members to abstain from unhealthy behaviours, such as alcohol and tobacco use.

“These groups also create both formal and informal support structures to promote positive health.

“The social bonds of belonging to the group might be another factor for better health.”

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, defines strict religions, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as those with strict social, moral and physical guidelines for members.

Mr Scheitle examined a total of 423 cases of people associated with religions from 1972 to 2006 and compared the self-reported health of 96 people who switched to another religion and 54 people who left religion altogether with those who stayed.

It found about 40 per cent of members of strict religious groups reported they were in excellent health but only 25 percent of members in those groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health.

Findings also showed that people who were raised and remained in strict religious groups were more likely to report they were in better health than people in other religions.

Mr Scheitle said positive thinking and the stress of leaving strict groups were other possible factors.

He said: “You could lose your friends or your family becomes upset when you leave, leading to psychological stress and negative health outcomes.”

But he said the study did not necessarily mean that leaving a religion caused poor health because in some cases poor health could prompt a person to leave, given the demands placed on them.

A belief that an “all-powerful being who failed to heal their condition” also left them feeling despondent, he adds…

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FAITH & For a long life, have faith #UKTelegraphNewspaper

by James LeFanu, The Telegraph Newspaper, 18 Aug 2014. Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life

It is encouraging for those reluctant or unable to engage in vigorous exercise that the splendidly named Dr Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, should have found, as reported in this paper last month, that jogging for as little as five minutes a day should be beneficial, dramatically cutting the risk of dying early.

Still, as Richard Scott, a family doctor, notes in this month’s British Journal of General Practice, religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long and healthy life.

When convalescing recently from a gruelling schedule of chemo and radiotherapy for a tumour of the bowel, Dr Scott, a Christian, read the scholarly Handbook of Religion and Health, whose survey of the research runs to 700 pages.

The positive influence of church attendance is well recognised, but the findings of this overview are, he observes, “quite extraordinary”, with faith reducing the risk of a heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer.

For mental health, the statistics are even more dramatic: those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced.

“Faith in God,” he says, “is relevant to all diseases yet studied.” That belief could be, as so many nowadays maintain, illusory, but the beneficial effect in conferring “greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life” is indisputably for real.

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FAITH & Having faith ‘helps patients live longer’, study suggests #UKTelegraphNewspaper

By Andrew Hough, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 06 Oct 2010.

Believing in God can help people live longer, a study has suggested.

Research into liver transplant patients found those who were actively “seeking God” had a better survival rate than those who did not hold religious beliefs, regardless of which faith they held.

They found some patients were up to three times more likely to survive by having a “strong religious connection”, even if they didn’t attend church.

The study, published in the journal Liver Transplantation, adds weight to previous studies that showed how religion and faith can “influence disease progression”.

Dr Franco Bonaguidi, who led the study, said the study found patients with “high religious coping” who actively sought “God’s help” and trusted their beliefs had a “more prolonged post-transplant survival than patients with low religiosity”.

“We found that an active search for God, (where) the patient’s faith in a higher power rather than a generic destiny, had a positive impact on patient survival,” he said.

He added it was the “personal relationship between the patient and God, regardless of religious creed rather than formal church attendance that positively affected survival”.

It did not matter what relgion a person believed in.

In their study, researchers selected 179 patients who had received a liver transplant between January 2004 and December 2007.

The group, the majority whom were male and middle aged, also completed a “religiosity” questionnaire before being monitored for the next four years after their transplant.

Almost two years later, religious patients were three times as likely to survive as those who did not hold such faith.

After three years, almost seven per cent of the actively “seeking-God” patients had died compared to more than a fifth of non religious believers.

The researchers concluded that the “search for God factor” coupled with a patient’s length of stay in an intensive care unit were “independently associated with survival”.

One participant, who was not identified, told the researchers that they “recovered” their life through the will of God, which made them “feel strong and calm”.

The study pointed to previous research, which it said showed people with HIV as well as heart patients, kidney dialysis patients had better survival chance if they were religious.

Last month researchers from Penn State university found that losing faith was bad for a person’s health as leaving a strict religion made people more likely to increase their drinking and smoking and were more susceptible to negativity and stress.

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SOCIAL MEDIA & Checking email outside of office hours risks relationships, psychologists find

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Do you find yourself checking your email after office hours? I used to, but then came upon research that shows doing so is detrimental to your family relationships and your relaxation. Read this important article and shut down the email app after business hours.”

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