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Why Are Americans Unhappy?

BY RELEVANT ISSUE 56 / LIFE April 16, 2012

A recent survey from the Barna Group found roughly one-third of Americans—about 70 million—say they are not living to their fullest potential and/or feel “held back or defined by something in their past.” Thirty percent of adults also acknowledge unresolved emotional pain or conflict in their life.

The most common exception to this unhappy majority were practicing Christians. More often than not, being part of a faith community exhibited positive results in the lives of participants.

In a separate report in the Journal of Religion and Health, those who frequently attended church services were 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic outlook and 27 percent less likely to be depressed.

Church certainly isn’t the end-all; in fact, 16 percent told Barna they’d been hurt by the Church. But researchers credit the optimism of churchgoers to the emotional and tangible support a religious environment can provide. Perhaps the power of big truth and small action—say, help with bills or a counseling session—can provide the assurance a “held back” generation craves.

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