A newly-released survey by The Associated Press and MTV, the music channel aimed at young people, has found that religion and family are two of the strongest components contributing to the happiness of people aged 13 to 24 in the United States.
"It's easier for kids who are happy and have things going well in their life to find the time and energy to participate in religion," Lisa Pearce, co-principal investigator for the National Study of Youth and Religion, was quoted as saying by AP.
Pearce, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, said the relationship between religion and happiness may depend on the individual's experiences. "It could be kids who have bad experiences in church end up leaving and being unhappy with religion," she noted.
The survey included more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people aged 13-24. It found that 80 percent of those who call religion or spirituality the most important thing in their lives say they are happy, while of those who say faith isn't important to them, 60 percent consider themselves happy.
Forty-four percent of respondents said religion and spirituality is at least very important to them, 21 percent responded that it is somewhat important, 20 percent said it plays a small part in their lives and 14 percent said it plays no role.
When it comes to spirituality, nearly 7 in 10 said that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, other beliefs might also be true.
Sixty-eight percent said they agreed with the statement, "I follow my own religious and spiritual beliefs, but I think that other religious beliefs could be true as well." Thirty-one percent chose the response, "I strongly believe that my religious beliefs are true and universal, and that other religious beliefs are not right."
Spending time with family was the top answer to the open-ended question, "What brings you happiness?" Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other person.