The pursuit of happiness and life satisfaction is a universal human endeavour, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries.

While the factors contributing to well-being have been extensively studied, the complex interplay between happiness, religion, and life satisfaction remains a topic of great interest. A recent study by Diener et al. (2022)[1], published in the journal Emotion, sheds new light on this relationship, drawing on data from the Gallup World Poll, which surveyed nearly 300,000 participants across 147 countries.

One of the key findings of the study is the difference in how daily emotions relate to overall life satisfaction in secular versus religious countries. In more secular nations, people tend to place a greater emphasis on their day-to-day happiness when evaluating their life satisfaction. This suggests that in these cultures, individuals prioritise positive emotions and personal fulfillment as essential components of a satisfying life.

In contrast, the association between daily emotions and life satisfaction is weaker in countries with more religious populations. This implies that people in these societies may use different criteria when assessing the quality of their lives, looking beyond momentary emotional states.

Happiness Religion Life Satisfaction Mind Health

The Role of Religious Standards in Evaluating Life Satisfaction

The study proposes that in religious cultures, individuals are more likely to rely on religious standards and teachings when evaluating their life satisfaction. Factors such as adherence to religious principles, spiritual growth, and a sense of connection to a higher power may take precedence over daily emotional experiences.

This finding challenges the notion that happiness and positive emotions are the sole determinants of a fulfilling life. It suggests that in religious contexts, individuals may find a sense of meaning and purpose through their faith, even in the face of daily challenges or negative experiences.

The idea that religion can provide a buffer against life’s difficulties has been supported by previous research (Park et al., 2021)[4]. Studies have shown that religious beliefs and practices can offer comfort, community, and resilience during times of stress. The current study extends this understanding by suggesting that religion may also shape the way in which individuals conceptualise and pursue well-being.

Implications for Well-Being Research and Interventions

The findings of this study have important implications for our understanding of well-being and the development of interventions aimed at promoting life satisfaction. They highlight the need for a culturally sensitive approach that acknowledges the diverse ways in which individuals define and pursue happiness.

For researchers, this means recognising the limitations of a universal model of well-being and exploring the unique factors that shape life satisfaction in different cultural and religious contexts (Hendriks et al., 2020)[2]. It calls for a more nuanced understanding of how individuals derive meaning and purpose, and how these factors interact with emotional experiences to influence overall well-being.

In terms of interventions, the findings suggest that strategies for promoting well-being may need to be tailored to the specific cultural and religious context. In secular societies, positive psychology interventions that focus on cultivating positive emotions and enhancing daily happiness, such as mindfulness practices or gratitude exercises, may be more effective (Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009)[6]. In religious cultures, interventions that align with religious values and promote spiritual growth may be more relevant and impactful[3].

Recent research has also highlighted the importance of considering individual differences in the pursuit of well-being. A study by Roksa et al. (2022)[5] found that the relationship between religiosity and life satisfaction varies depending on an individual’s level of intrinsic religiosity. This suggests that the role of religion in promoting well-being may be more complex than previously thought, and that interventions should take into account the unique ways in which individuals experience and express their faith.


The study by Diener et al. (2022)[1] offers valuable insights into the complex relationship between happiness, religion, and life satisfaction on a global scale. It challenges our assumptions about the universality of well-being and highlights the importance of considering cultural and religious contexts in our understanding of what it means to live a fulfilling life.

As we continue to explore the factors that contribute to well-being, it is crucial to approach this topic with cultural sensitivity and an open mind. By acknowledging the diverse paths to life satisfaction and learning from the insights offered by global studies like this one, we can develop a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of what it means to thrive.

Ultimately, the pursuit of well-being is a deeply personal journey, shaped by our individual experiences, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. By embracing the richness and diversity of these experiences, we can work towards a world where every individual has the opportunity to find their own path to a meaningful and satisfying life.


  1. Diener, E., Tay, L., Myers, D. G., & Oishi, S. (2022). Happiness, religion, and life satisfaction. Emotion. Advance online publication.
  2. Hendriks, T., Warren, M. A., Schotanus-Dijkstra, M., Hassankhan, A., Graafsma, T., Bohlmeijer, E., & de Jong, J. (2020). How WEIRD are positive psychology interventions? A bibliometric analysis of randomized controlled trials on the science of well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(4), 489-501.
  3. Park, J., Yoon, H., & Kim, J. (2021). The role of religion and spirituality in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic: A national longitudinal study. Journal of Religion and Health. Advance online publication.
  4. Roksa, J., Savla, J., & Sterling, S. (2022). Religion and subjective well-being across adulthood: A longitudinal study of race and gender differences. Advances in Life Course Research, 53, 100478.
  5. Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 467-487.