I'm partial to this advice since my family just recently joined a new church closer to my neighborhood. It's where my children attended preschool. It was an easy decision to join this church since we'd already built such great relationships there. I run into some issues with getting to church every week since I spend the vast majority of my Sunday mornings at the WSB radio studio recording "Money Matters With Wes Moss" from 9 to 11 a.m. But once I retire someday in the distant future, I plan to enjoy church regularly and increase my happiness!
Digging deeper for the retirement application, it's helpful to understand what these attendance levels actually mean. Walking through those church doors probably won't deliver a happiness silver bullet. It's actually what accompanies religious service participation that matters.
Earlier, we published findings showing that happy retirees enjoyed over 3.5 core pursuits in retirement. You can think of these pursuits as hobbies-on-steroids. Interestingly, the most common core pursuit for the happiest group: volunteering. Volunteering gives retirees the feeling of meaningful accomplishment; a self-satisfaction that is hard to replicate outside of acts of service and giving. Church (or other religious participation) is filled with outlets for this. Sunday school volunteering, global missions trips or dropping a $20 in the offering basket — you'd be hard-pressed to find as many easy means for a service-led happiness boost in one place. And the more you go, the more likely you're participating in one or more of these.
Beyond opportunities for service, the sense of community and belonging in faith groups brings new richness to the retirement season. Consider the lifestyle experienced by residents in Loma Linda, Calif. This community, made up primarily of Seventh-day Adventists, is the only recognized “Blue Zone” in the United States.
These zones, defined in the New York Times best-selling book by the same name, represent the nine happiest and healthiest people groups in the world. As the only one in America, this community offers compelling proof on concentrated religion's impact on happiness. This town — where as many as 1/3 of residents are Seventh-day Adventist — outlives the rest of America by nearly a decade. They report outsized levels of vitality, in part because their faith encourages finding sanctuary from the bustle and stress of life. They take 24-hour sabbaths for rest and prioritize spending time with like-minded friends.
According to "Blue Zone" research, they find well-being in sharing each other's values and providing support and accountability around healthy habits. All this strengthens social networks (the real, human kind!) and gives consistent relational connection.
The most actively religious among us are statistically happier. They’re finding purposefulness and a sense of shared, profound meaning. So while you’re fine-tuning your financial plan for retirement, double-check that you plan for some good ole’ gospel time. Can I get an amen?!
Wes Moss has been the host of “Money Matters” on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB in Atlanta for more than seven years now, and he does a live show from 9-11 a.m. Sundays. He is the chief investment strategist for Atlanta-based Capital Investment Advisors. For more information, go to wesmoss.com.
This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax, or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.
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