Spirituality Leads to Happier, Healthier Children

So says a recent article in TIME by psychologist Lisa Miller. “An increasingly narcissistic culture and the constant reward for achievement,” she writes

whether on the playing field, the music stage or the math test, creates what I call in my book the unbalanced “performance self” of the child; a child who feels his or her worth is founded on ability and accomplishment…Children come to believe they are no better than their last success and suffer a sense of worthlessness when there is loss or even moderate failure. Where love is conditional on performance, children suffer.

Now the antidote. A new study just published online in the Journal of Religion and Health by my lab at Columbia University shows that happiness and the character traits of grit and persistence go “hand in hand” with a deeper inner asset: spirituality, which this study measured as a deep spiritual connection with a sense of a sacred world. More generally my research of more than 20 years on adolescencedepression and spirituality shows more specifically how putting a priority on performance stunts development of a child’s inner life and the single most powerful protection against depression and suffering, the spiritual self.

Not only does the article demonstrate the importance of spirituality, but also the harmful effects of a status and achievement-driven culture.[ref]I would imagine that the mixing of the two is even more harmful.[/ref] Check it out.