Who is happier: ultra.Orthodox or secular?

A new study has found that compared to seculars, the ultra.Orthodox are happier. The study joins a series of studies in Israel and around the world that repeatedly demonstrate that there is a positive impact of a religious life on the overall experience of happiness in life. The CBS ‘happiness index also placed the ultra.Orthodox cities of Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak (along with Kfar Saba) at the top of the list, with an overwhelming majority of residents in these cities testifying that they were satisfied with their lives. “, The connection between states of happiness and the degree of religiosity was examined and according to the results 62% of the ultra.Orthodox define themselves as” very satisfied with their lives “, compared to only 26% among the secular.

So why do ultra.Orthodox people report higher levels of life satisfaction, even though their income and standard of living fall significantly short of that of the secularists?

Previous studies have pointed to the contribution of a sense of meaning, belonging and social support to the levels of happiness of ultra.Orthodox. Now the research conducted by Dr. Pninit Russo.Netzer (Achva Academic College and University of Haifa), Dr. Tamar Itzkson (Peres Academic Center and Ben Gurion University) and doctoral student Aya Zeiger (Tel Aviv University), points to two other mechanisms that may explain The differences in happiness levels between secular and ultra.Orthodox. The study focused on contributing gratitude and optimism to explain intercultural differences.

Photo: jacqueline munguia, unsplash

Gratitude foretells happiness

Many religious communities, including the ultra.Orthodox community, cultivate among their members a lifestyle based on regular rituals of gratitude (such as the “I thank you” prayer that opens the day or the “who created” blessing after going to the bathroom). Gratitude is defined as a worldview aimed at identifying, appreciating and appreciating the good in life. Indeed, the new study found that ultra.Orthodox report higher levels of gratitude, which explains the fact that they are happier, beyond the levels of optimism, found to be identical between secular and ultra.Orthodox.

Another interesting finding was that optimism “contributed” more to gratitude among secularists compared to ultra.Orthodox, meaning that optimism may “vaccinate” seculars and contribute to their levels of happiness, by raising their levels of gratitude. This study joins previous studies that have found that men and women with higher levels of optimism, tend to pay more attention to positive stimuli in the environment, and are less likely to pay attention and be distracted by negative and threatening information. This positive tendency contributes to the individual’s ability to be focused on the positive aspects of events and experiences and to experience more feelings of gratitude on a daily basis. According to the researchers, cultivating an optimistic worldview may encourage gratitude and therefore contribute especially to the happiness levels of seculars (compared to the ultra.Orthodox).


What are the practical implications of the findings? Cultivating a lifestyle that encourages optimistic perception and gratitude may be valuable in promoting greater life satisfaction, especially among seculars. How can this be done?

Gratitude can be nurtured in a variety of everyday ways:

And what about optimism?

  • less is more – Less news, more optimism. Try to consume news in a reasonable dose and not beyond. News amplifies negative thoughts about the future, especially anxiety and worry.
  • Turn lemons into lemonade – Re.framing of negative experiences (which are an integral part of our lives) promotes positive thinking of the future. See if the situation can be interpreted in a more positive light. Can anything good result from this? Are there opportunities here? What have I learned and can I apply in the future?
  • Defining goals and action to achieve them – Do you know what your goals are in the coming years? Imagine a future where everything worked out exactly as you wanted. What do you have to do to get there? Set intermediate goals, combine actions to achieve them routinely and fight blocking thoughts (“I will never succeed because …”).

By Editor

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