Good characteristics to enhance wellbeing!

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We are exploring together what the Bible says about wellbeing. Otherwise, how can you live a more satisfied, fulfilling life? Recently we have been discussing the 5 scriptural tools to maturity (Acts 2:42,47) as a means to build robust Biblically based wellbeing into our lives! Today, with these tools in hand we discuss the results of the process!

The fruits of maturing in Christ are multiple and are mentioned throughout the New Testament. Let’s begin by focusing on four Bible-based characteristics shown beneficial for wellbeing in the medical literature (forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy). Read here! To accomplish our goal we reviewed clinical studies covering these four characteristics in patients from 1966 to present. We included 63 articles in the review.

All four measures evaluated in our study were shown to improve wellbeing, from pre-adolescents to older adults. Further, these measures were associated more specifically with improved social relationships and physical health as well as reduced delinquent behavior.

Although our review focused on the effect of four specific measures on individuals themselves, and not on the recipient, we might speculate that any increase in wellbeing among the evaluated individuals could transmit a greater sense of wellbeing to others.

The source of the four evaluated parameters also was evaluated and only two primary sources were found! First, forgiveness, gratitude and empathy could be taught, at least to some degree, through classes or a training module. Hope has not been evaluated in a training module to our knowledge.

Second, a person’s religious faith, or their involvement in a community of believers, appeared positively associated with all four evaluated measures. How the measure was developed through religion was not completely clear. We might speculate that forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy were produced through knowledge from the religion’s scriptures, through self-learning or sermons, or through interaction with the faith community. Importantly, almost all articles evaluated in our review were from traditionally Christian countries.

Our review suggests that forgiveness, gratitude, hope and empathy may improve general wellbeing, pro-social and positive relational behavior and demonstrate positive health effects. These four measures may be derived from religious instruction and through a faith community.