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The Influence of Experiential Avoidance, Humility and Patience on the Association Between Religious/Spiritual Exploration and Well-Being

Abstract

Prior research on the religiousness/spirituality—well-being association has largely neglected the dimension of religious/spiritual exploration, and the recent trend examining virtues, religiousness/spirituality, and well-being has predominantly involved cross-sectional data. We expanded prior research by analyzing a longitudinal model consisting of three waves of data, approximately 6 months between waves, that explored the associations between experiential avoidance, humility, patience, religious/spiritual exploration, and distinct dimensions of well-being. We used joy as an indicator of the positive emotion dimension of subjective well-being, and presence of meaning in life as an indicator of eudaimonic well-being. We used a diverse sample of emerging religious leaders attending 18 graduate theological schools across North America (N = 283; Mage = 29.81; SD = 0.51; range = 19–62; 47.7% female; 61.8% White). We observed a negative influence for initial levels of exploration on later joy and meaning in life, when initial levels of experiential avoidance were high and humility was low. In contrast, we found a positive influence for initial levels of exploration on later joy and meaning in life, when initial levels of experiential avoidance remained high and humility was high. Initial levels of patience exhibited a positive influence on meaning in life 1 year later, indirectly via greater levels of exploration at time 2. Practical implications centered on providing opportunities for individuals to explore alternative beliefs, practices and experiences, and encouraging engagement in humility and patience self-cultivation practices, each of which could move them toward greater well-being.

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John Templeton Foundation, #61515.

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Correspondence to Peter J. Jankowski.

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Jankowski, P.J., Murphy, S., Johnson, J. et al. The Influence of Experiential Avoidance, Humility and Patience on the Association Between Religious/Spiritual Exploration and Well-Being. J Happiness Stud 23, 2137–2156 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-021-00488-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-021-00488-w

Keywords

  • Humility
  • Patience
  • Spirituality
  • Well-being
  • Exploration