First I hope I didn’t misspell your name! Actually I just copy-pasted it so if there’s mistake, well. Hello?
Second I want to thank you so much for being the first one to ask a question on @DailyCuckoo. I will never be able to express myself enough in words to tell you how much I appreciate that and how much I’m grateful for it so here, a beautiful picture of a kitten wearing a bonnet just for you:
Third, well done, nice question.
To tell you the truth, from the thousands of billions of books I’ve read, I have nothing on happiness and religion.
Why? How come?
Well, the biggest reason is that I’ve personally (as a bird) never been interested into religions. There’s also maybe the reason that no PhD geek has never ever yet studied the correlation between both? But I highly doubt that.
But what I can tell you though—and this is from years of studies and research—is the following: happiness/contentment/high self-esteem is about living your life according to your own values. And, as you can guess, this is a very personal thing.
Religions come with a preset of values. This is not the problem in itself. Depending on the religions, these values can be very healthy and very helpful. The problem with religions is that you can’t cherry pick. You can’t be a Catholic priest and get married for example. Or having sexual thoughts about a married man or a married woman is considered sinful, while we now know scientifically that feelings and thoughts (that result from them) are uncontrollable, only our actions are controllable. Religions will tend to make you feel guilty where there is no reason that you should.
With religions you have to take the whole package. You have to follow values defined by others. This is the easy way. This is actually way much easier than reflecting on yourself, on what you really want, what you really believe, and take the courage to live your life according to your own rules. But this doesn’t bring happiness. This doesn’t bring contentment.
Religions can be a great foundation for values, but one day or the other, on your path to self-growth and self-contentment, you will find conflicts. And if you decide to deny yourself, then you lose self-esteem/contentment/happiness. The key here is to always choose yourself. The path to contentment and happiness is indeed very personal and can be lonely sometimes, but it is the way to not be at war with yourself.
So, my advice? If you’re just looking to follow a religion to be happy, that’s not gonna work. But you can study religions if this is your thing, pick up the values that talk to you, ignore the ones that don’t make sense, and make your own story. Some people might not accept that, but this is their issue, not yours. To be happy, you have to live your own life according to your own rules, accept that others do the same, and of course, do it while respecting others.
Hope this helps.
P.S. Much more serious topic that what I was expecting to start with!
P.P.S. For any discussion, please drop a comment below.