The most difficult chapter in my book to write was the key “Seek Spiritual Balance.” It was difficult because this book is written for a secular audience, not necessarily a faith-based one. It would have been easy for me to share my personal spiritual ideas and thoughts–which I did somewhat–but I wanted to be as objective as possible. Spirituality tends to be an individual thing and is viewed differently by many people and many faiths.
I was pleased to see that former Utah Lt. Governor Greg Bell recently wrote a column in the Deseret News that dovetails nicely with the notion that spirituality helps one live a more healthy and purposeful life. In the article, he references a couple of studies on religiosity. One study by Dan Buettner looked at people living in the “Blue Zone,” where people tend to live to 100 without suffering from dementia, depression and deadly diseases that tend to end life earlier. In fact, the factors Buettner listed as causes for their longevity corresponded with some of the keys mentioned in my book: strong family and social ties, regular moderate physical activity and a moderate diet. The most surprising thing Buettner mentioned, however, was the impact religiosity had on life’s longevity among those people. Those who attended church four times a month added anywhere from 4 to 14 years of quality living to their life expectancy.
Bell points out another study of 9,000 older Europeans by the London School of Economics and the Neatherlands’ Erasmus Medical Center. The study looked at factors affecting mental health. It looked at things like charitable giving and volunteering, participation in politics and social organizations, educational pursuits and participating in religious activities. The study concludes that the only activity to provide a lasting positive influence on mental health was participating in religious organizations.
“Science tells us that religion and going to church makes people happier, healthier and more purposeful,” Bell says.
As I did research for my chapter on seeking spiritual balance, I found plenty of studies that point to the positive effects of spirituality and religiosity. But, as with most of the things I discuss in my book, I have plenty of life experience to back up my assertion that spiritual balance is a key to living a life that matters and a life filled with purpose.