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Secular or Religious Salvation?

Religious people live longer. Well, religious people who attend their faith-based meet ups, that is.


Man holding his arms up in a salute to the sunset

​​A study published last year in PLOS One, found that regular service attendance was linked to reductions in the body’s stress responses and even in mortality - so much so that worshippers were 55 percent less likely to die during the up to 18-year follow-up period than people who didn’t frequent the temple, church or mosque.


And Blue Zones points out that “attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.”


Why? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. People who are part of a religious community feel a great sense of purpose, they have a wonderful support system, and they pray, which has been shown to trigger the “relaxation response, a state of mind-body rest that has been shown to decrease stress, heart rate and blood pressure; alleviate chronic disease symptoms; and even change gene expression.”


All of those things, unsurprisingly, lead to living a longer life. So… what about those of us who aren’t particularly religious?


Where can we fill up our cup for things like community, purpose, support, and relaxation?


Here are some ideas…


Join a Group or a Club: It’s amazing how much better people feel when they’re part of a community, even if it’s a small community. Find friends, make friends, join a group with common interests, and get in the habit of meeting up with those people periodically, every week or month. This could be a book club, a sports club, or something else entirely. If you can’t find one, start one.


Meditate: Meditation provides the same benefits as prayer, perhaps even greater benefits. So spend a little time each day (5-10 minutes) meditating.


Practice Gratitude: Glass-half-full people live longer because they’re focused on the good parts of life. Get in the habit of noticing the good more often than you notice the bad.


Do Things You Love: We all need something to work toward. We all want to feel as though we’re making progress in our lives. Do something that’s exciting to you. Maybe that’s writing a book, organising photographs, or joining a community support centre?

 

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