I've touched on this topic here and there already. But I recently came across some research that seems to support the idea.
In order to be happy, people need to figure out what they "should" believe in... how they "should" think... and support that method in their lifestyle.
Process: -Initial caveat: The following should all happen as long as you are "not hurting anyone else." -Step 1: Find out (through self-reflection) if you want to believe in God or any other deity or none at all. -Step 2: Embrace what "feels right" to you, along with whatever-level-of-skepticism you think is appropriate. -Step 3: Continue to re-evaluate your position and adjust (if necessary) whenever/if-ever you feel you should.
Examples: -Some people are very religious, and they need to be very religious in order to be happy - these people should be very religious. -Some people are very atheistic, and they need to be very atheistic in order to be happy - these people should be very atheistic.
We should be embracing our differences in beliefs and allow others to do so accordingly (as long as we're talking about "beliefs.") Along the lines of people speaking different languages or engaging in different traditions/cultures. We need to do what makes us happy in order to be happy, and allow others to do their things to make themselves happy.
The article identifies that the "religious" and the "nones" are very broad groups. One can be very religious, or not so much. One can be agnostic, atheist, non-religiously spiritual...
Most previous studies have been "religious" vs. "nones" and indicate that the religious are generally happier. However, recent studies are acknowledging these broad groups and getting into the sub-groups.
These studies suggest that "dedicated atheists" are equally happy as "dedicated religious" believers. This indicates that it may be the strength of one's believe that is the secret to happiness - not necessarily the content of that belief.
The article writes:
These results tantalizingly suggest that ‘certainty of belief,’ rather than the content of the belief itself, may be a key determinant of positive mental health in the groups studied. Contrariwise, uncertainty or inconsistency of belief, as sometimes witnessed in agnostics, the non-affiliated and the ‘spiritual but not religious’ may be a risk factor for poor mental health.
And how do you have a "strong" belief? You follow the process I mentioned above. Basically - figure out how you "feel" you should be believing - and go with that. This way you avoid things like 'awkward feelings of *something* being wrong, but not sure what' as much as possible. If you're getting such awkward feelings - do not shy away from them 'for the sake of the belief' because that will lead to being frustrated and negatively affect your mental health. You should be acknowledging such feelings - investigate them and identify if you should be altering your beliefs towards something more aligned with what your basic thoughts/feelings lean towards. This is the path to happiness. The same process for everyone (leading to 'certainty of belief') - but different paths (different 'contents' of those beliefs.)
When you align your lifestyle with the way you think/feel you should be living - it results in a stronger belief that you're "on the right path" and leads to happiness.
For Faith and Belief - or anywhere else if you think it's better suited