Where Life Has Meaning: Poor, Religious Countries

Julie Beck | The Atlantic | January 10, 2014

Research indicates that lack of religion is a key reason why people in wealthy countries don't feel a sense of purpose.

Much ink, film, and many ones and zeros have been spilled on the topic of how to be happy lately. Science has given us some clues, often subdividing "happiness" into smaller parts: the importance of relationships and social connection, the positive effects of optimism. This sort of research gets a lot of attention when it comes out, as unhappy or even just vaguely dissatisfied people clamor for a fix. Maybe if we can unravel all the threads of happiness’s snarled tapestry and see how they fit together, we’ll finally be able to weave our own lives into a reasonable facsimile thereof.

We’ve seen before that perhaps the most important thread—more important than diet or exercise or the easy but often-unfulfilling happiness of a booze-soaked evening—is the feeling that your life means something, that you have purpose. How to get that, of course, is another knot to untangle.