Religion and Happiness


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  • Title: Religion and Happiness: A Buddhist-Christian Response
  • Author(s): Wioleta Polinska
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Happiness, Mindfulness, Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2015
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Polinska, Wioleta . 2015. "Religion and Happiness: A Buddhist-Christian Response." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 13 (3): 67-80. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v13i03/43683.
  • Extent: 14 pages


Research during the last few decades has identified participation in religion as contributing to lasting levels of happiness. While the evidence is varied and not unanimous, there is a general consensus that religion is correlated with well-being. In light of Buddhist and Christian theologies that value interdependence of human beings with the rest of reality, I will propose caution regarding reports where happiness is assessed by self-reported individual well-being. Instead, I will argue that given contemporary ecological deterioration and growing inequality between poor and rich, there is a need for a theology of happiness that includes the flourishing of all people and of all nature. Both Buddhist and Christian theological reflections insist that a separate, individualistic concept of happiness is misguided. Since we exist in a matrix of interdependence, nothing can be delinked; we cannot step out of the matrix. Wishing to step outside of the matrix is self-centered, but also, futile. Since our lives are intertwined with the myriads of other beings, we “inter-are” so deeply that “the only alternative to coexistence is co-nonexistence.” But if we compassionately embrace our kinship with others, happiness without the prosperity of others should not be welcomed.