The relation between spirituality and happiness was assessed in 320 children aged 8–12 from public and private (i.e., faith-based) schools. Children rated their own spirituality using the Spiritual Well-Being Questionnaire and 11 items selected and modified from the Brief Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality which reflected the children’s practices and beliefs. Children’s happiness was assessed using self-reports based on the Oxford Happiness Scale short form, the Subjective Happiness Scale, and a single-item measure. Parents also rated their children’s happiness. Children and parents rated the children’s temperament using the emotionality, activity, and sociability temperament survey. Children’s spirituality, but not their religious practices (e.g., attending church, praying, and meditating), was strongly linked to their happiness. Children who were more spiritual were happier. Spirituality accounted for between 3 and 26% of the unique variance in children’s happiness depending on the measures. Temperament was also a predictor of happiness, but spirituality remained a significant predictor of happiness even after removing the variance associated with temperament. The personal (i.e., meaning and value in one’s own life) and communal (quality and depth of inter-personal relationships) domains of spirituality were particularly good predictors of children’s happiness. These results parallel studies of adult happiness and suggest strategies to enhance happiness in children.
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Preparation of this article was supported by grants from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and UBC Okanagan, awarded to Mark Holder. We are grateful to Andrea Klassen for her expert help with the data collection and the Methods section of this paper.
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Holder, M.D., Coleman, B. & Wallace, J.M. Spirituality, Religiousness, and Happiness in Children Aged 8–12 Years. J Happiness Stud 11, 131–150 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9126-1