The research shows that religious belief has a powerful impact on wellbeing. We don’t believe in God as a form of therapy, but we believe that we live life most fully with God at the centre. As the model Te Whare Tapa Wha shows, the doorway to wellbeing is through the spiritual “wall” of our “house”. Our wellbeing programmes, then, should be distinctive for at least two things: a foundation in spiritual wellbeing, and a focus on relational, rather than individualistic, wellbeing.
Below is one Primary wellbeing programme which we highly recommend, and links to articles to help you think more deeply about wellbeing, the relationship between wellbeing and faith, and the emerging academic interest in relational wellbeing.
This rich programme provides hundreds of detailed lessons, their own stories and story books, assemblies, parent information, online staff training and meditations. It is based around five key ideas: Don’t forget to let love in; Too much selfie isn’t healthy; Don’t rub it in, rub it out; Fake is a mistake; “No way through” isn’t true. The free trial allows you a generous range of materials to test out. Have a look at it for yourself!
Who am I today?
It has never been easy to answer the question ‘Who am I?’ but increasing social pluralism, the fast-changing world of social media, and easy access to cosmetic surgery make it more difficult than ever. The resulting confusion may undermine wellbeing and threaten social cohesion. The biblical view of human identity as ‘given’ in Christ, worked out imaginatively in relational communities, can potentially buffer these harmful consequences, defend against narcissism and help cultivate personal resilience.
A recent Harvard study reveals that children who had a religious upbringing are likely to be healthier and have a higher degree of well-being in early adulthood than those who did not. The study, conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and released last month, shows a link between a religious upbringing and better physical and mental health in young adults.
How do we measure wellbeing?
The Relationships Foundation has long argued that there’s more to life than GDP. Just before the recent general election our pamphlet A Relationships State of the Nation made the case for assessing the relationships that are important for wellbeing. This assessment would hold up a mirror to our society and ask: do we like what we see, do we like the direction in which we are travelling? The following briefing note reviews some of the work that is currently being done in the area of wellbeing/wellbeing related indices.
An interview with Professor Glynn Harrison, discussing the self-esteem movement and what Christianity says to it. “Feelings of worth partly follow as a by-product of the pursuit of something bigger than ourselves”… “Is self-esteem going to plug some of the holes in our societal breakdown? It’s a pipedream. You can’t separate out questions of worth from questions of identity and meaning. How about re-framing it from “what’s good for me?” to “What’s good for others as well as me?” It’s actually healthier and makes us feel better.” ... “Increasingly schools are seeing that there is no evidence the self-esteem based programmes are producing the hoped for outcomes.”
Religion and Wellbeing: Assessing the Evidence
A detailed summary and analysis of the research done in recent years into the connections between religious belief and wellbeing.
This academic paper is for any who want to look seriously at the contrast between subjective or psychological wellbeing approaches, and relational wellbeing. The table at the start of the paper sums up the difference, and the paper itself suggests an approach that is showing signs of becoming increasingly important. It is a secular paper, but it is not difficult to see how such an approach is consonant with Christianity. Quote: "For Haidt (2006:236-7) thus, ‘Happiness comes from between’, emerging through ‘right relationships’ with work, with others, and with ‘something larger than yourself’."