For some, Easter represents the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, a four-day respite from work, and little more. For many others, however, Easter has a deep religious significance, and marks remembrance of the death and resurrection of Christ.
Not a topic one would necessarily expect to find in the context of psychology, none the less – here it is. The implications of belief in a higher entity has our attention, and the reason why may just surprise you.
Religion has been deeply dividing for almost as long as the human species has roamed the earth, and suffice it to say, this has not changed. A distinction is sometimes introduced by those wishing to acknowledge their orientation to the divine or sacred, whereby they describe their practice as spiritual rather than religious, demonstrating that spirituality can be embraced without prescribing to any specific religion or religious denomination.
Regardless of this distinction, as advocates of wellbeing we are in favour of flourishing, and the science says that spiritual or religious practice can be as powerful as some of those more obvious factors such as nutrition, movement and rest.
Research into religion and spirituality indicates many benefits, including increased happiness and longevity, reduced depression and suicide , increased resilience, increased stability in relationships, and increased satisfaction with family life. The list continues with studies demonstrating stress buffering and wellbeing inducing effects through improved social connection, feelings of gratitude, and reduced anxiety around death.
There is a considerable range of spiritual or religious based practices to be explored. This path is not for the closed minded, however, so if you feel yourself resisting, bring some curiosity to the feeling and open yourself to the possibility that you may just find value in one of these practices.
If you are drawing a blank on what some of those might be, here are some options to consider:
Gratitude practice – read more in our post here.
Meditation – a phone app can be helpful. We suggest this one.
Exploring long held personal beliefs
Enhancing your compassion
Acts of generosity – read our post here.
Many of these practices, on closer inspection, share similarities with the positive psychology approach. The difference, in my opinion at least, is that spiritual or religious practice rests on a moral underpinning and is an expression of someone’s reverence for their existence.
So, as you close this article and continue with your day, why not reflect on Easter with an appreciation of its origin and set an intention to expand your life with one of these simple practices.
Blog by Ance Strydom