Believing Can Improve Your Well-Being

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Easter has always carried profound meaning for me. It is a time of sacrifice, rebirth, renewal, joy and love. Even if you do not celebrate Easter, it is an opportunity to embrace its message into your life. This Easter I have really examined the power of believing. Children believe in the Easter bunny despite the reality they have never actually seen him (or her). When the time comes for children to accept that the Easter bunny is a myth, even if they can fully intellectualize this truth, it can be devastating. I have seen this reaction first hand in my daughter. It then occurred to me that why wouldn’t we want to believe in something magical and giving? In fact, believing in something we have never seen, or that doesn’t exist, can improve your well-being.

Childhood versus adult beliefs:

At a glance, it may appear that childhood beliefs are vastly different than adult beliefs, but in fact, they are surprisingly similar. For instance, it is considered normal for young children to believe in spiritual figures such as God, mythical figures such as Santa Claus and make-believe figures such as monsters. Similarly, it is considered normal for adults to believe in spiritual figures such as God, mythical figures such as angels and make-believe figures such as ghosts. Other beliefs can be more conceptual such as belief in humanity, belief in fate and most importantly belief in yourself. In fact, having something or someone to believe in can be protective and beneficial at any age.

Beliefs and well-being:

The impact our beliefs have on our well-being overlaps with the concepts of mind-body medicine and positive psychology. Jon Kabat-Zinn (2013), the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, states that “how we are in a relationship to our thoughts and emotions can make a huge difference in the quality of our lives and our health, both in the present moment and over time.” For instance, if you believe that your life is full of bad luck and uncontrollable circumstances, that is how it will likely play out. A meta-analysis of positive psychology interventions by Bolier et al. (2013) supports this notion of the impact our thoughts have on our well-being. They determined that interventions such as practicing kindness, expressing gratitude and setting goals can enhance both subjective and psychological well-being.

Seeing is not believing:

In order to believe in higher powers, believing is not equated with seeing. This can be applied to many aspects of our lives and improve our well-being:

  • Believe in yourself – see it, dream it, do it.
  • Believe in a higher power – have faith and practice it in your everyday life.
  • Believe in others – spread kindness and it will be returned.
  • Believe in miracles – sometimes they happen.
  • Believe in healing – don’t underestimate the strength of time and patience.
  • Believe in fantasy – who says you have to stop believing in the spirit of Santa?

Do beliefs play a significant part in your life?

Resources:

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full Catastrophe Living. United States: Bantam Books.

Bolier et al. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health, 13:119.

Nauert, R. (2013). Belief in God can improve mental health outcomes. Psych Central.

SaraTMD



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