SEVEN JOYS OF RELIGION

Seven Joys of Religion

The Seven Joys of Religion represent only a fraction of the Joys associated with main stream religions and the general belief in a god.  Religion critics rarely dispute these seven joys and avoid talking about any Joys choosing to redirect your attention to another topic.  

Hope is the First of the Seven Joys of Religion

A. What is Hope?

The dictionary defines hope as a feeling of expectation for a something to happen in the future.  For example, “I feel that the postman will deliver the mail by 2:00 p.m, may be an expectation but does not reach the level of a hope.  The definition should be modified to:

the faith that a certain thing may happen in the future to benefit yourself or others.” 

Faith is a much stronger word than “feeling” and includes elements of trust or confidence.  

Click on the Read Me Link for scientific and observational evidence regarding whether or not hope works, methods of measuring hope, and how to increase your hope level.  This link is quite long.  It is meant to educate and provide data backed up with studies.  There are several surprising results and connections.

Hope, being the first of the Seven Joys of Religion, is the glue that keeps us together when times are hard.  It’s that glimmer of something better just around the corner. 

Hope is inside every person from birth.  It is not something that can be sold, transferred, or destroyed.  There is some evidence that hard-working poor people tend to have a stronger hope trait than the wealthy. 

This suggests that power suppresses hope.   For you Type A Personalities, you may want to acknowledge this suppression connection and work on ways to actively encourage hope.  Practice and more practice is the key.

B. Does Hope Really Work?

[Student Performance].  One study found that hopeful students worked harder and had a wider range of thought than students with moderate levels of hope.  Students with low levels of hope gave up easily and performed  at the lowest level.  [ Goleman D (1995) Emotional Intelligence Why it can Matter More than IQ, New York, NY Bantam Books. ]  

[Employees]  Another study  found that employees with a higher hope score had higher performance rating, higher job satisfaction and were in better overall health compared to those employees that had the lowest hope score.  [Rand.K. & Cheavens J. (2009) Hope theory, in Lopez, Shane,J. and Snyder, C.R.(Eds.)(2009) Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed.) Oxford University Press]

[Prisoners] Proof of the value of hope is apparent in every prison.  Vast number of people imprisoned look to God during the long period of confinement.  It involves praying (requests) and asking for the strength, to become a better person, and to be forgiven. 

The State of Nevada implemented a Hope for Prisoners programIt cut the state recidivism rate to 6%.  As a comparison over the same period the federal recidivism rate was 50%.   Anyone who thinks hope does not work needs to visit Nevada. 

[Soldiers] Every soldier carries thoughts and photographs of loved ones with the hope they will return to them.  General Eisenhower’s personal decision to authorize the D-day invasion and the ultimate victory was guided by hope and prayers.  An article in the war room at the army war college summed it up:

Hope is not a Strategy, it is the only Strategy.”

[Physical Health]:   People in academics often question hope as not supported by science.  But, medical benefits of hope is demonstrated on a routine basis.   It happens every day over and over again.  And it is repeatable.  Repeatable observations is at the very core of the definition of science. Take for example of concept of:

The placebo effect.

In standard FDA medical tests, they give three groups of people the following:  Group 1 receives unmarked pills or injections containing the drug being tested.  Group 2 receives the identical pills or injections containing an inactive base such as sugar or starch.  Group 3 received no pills and no injections.  At the end of the test, Group 1 had the best results (if the drug worked.)  Group 2 had the next best results.  Group 3 had the worst results. 

The only difference between individuals in Group 3 and those in Group 2 was that Group 2 had “hope.”  They hoped they were taking the drug. 

The descriptive name for this phenomenon is the Hope Effect.  The medical industrial complex, aka “Big Pharma,” would rather not use the word “hope” in the description.   Having people understand that hope (free) had powerful medicinal effect would negatively affect sales (profits). 

They re-named it the “placebo effect.”  Placebo is Latin for “shall be pleasing.”  Taking pills or receiving injections are not pleasing.  Not taking pills or injections is far more pleasing.   Hence, refusing to the call the effect by its descriptive name (hope effect)  appears to be for political or economic reason.  

Studies have shown that injections have a stronger Hope Effect (placebo) than a tablet.  Two pills work better than one pill, capsules are stronger than tablets and larger pills produce the greater reaction.  Red, yellow, and orange have a stimulant Hope Effect (placebo) while blue and green have a tranquilizing effect. 

This is why many doctors often prescribe placebos (sugar or starch pills) for a wide range of ailments.   It is far more common that you think.  A 2015 study showed that 45 to 80 percent of U.S. internists and rheumatologists reported they had prescribed placebos in their practice.

Studies indicate that the Hope Effect (placebo) may Account for up to Half of a Drug’s Efficacy.  Others studies place it at 50 to 70 % of the treatment.  That is not a minor effect.

Many medical professionals take the position that the Hope effect (placebo effect) only works on the symptoms and does not work on the disease.  Not True.  They point to a study that showed certain types of biochemical parameters did not respond .   This included diabetes, blood loss anemia, hyperglycaemia, etc.   But it showed an effect on blood pressure, viral infections like the common cold, asthma, post-operative swelling, etc.   Unfortunately, the test only compared groups that took a placebo and groups that did not take anything.   It did not compare groups that used a treatment drugs.   This is the FDA requirement for all drugs for all diseases. 

Without the comparison with treatment drugs, it is difficult to determine the validity of a comparison. 

Many diseases are caused or aggravated  by stress, which includes cancer.  These people would be expected to benefit by the Hope Effect (placebo effect).   Cancer is not a symptom. 

And this does not take into account some of the devastating side effects are often associated with most drugs.  Next time you buy or use a drug, look at the list of side effects. 

There are many studies proving that stress reduces the body’s immunity. Therefore anything that the body fights would be expected to receive a benefit from the Hope or placebo effect.  Improved immunity is not s symptom.

The anointment of oil on a person’s head along with the laying on of hands with prayer has been shown to have a stronger Hope Effect that pills.  This only applies to a person who believes in the religion and is a much stronger than typical placebos.  This implies that a higher amount of hope may induce a higher immunity or resistance.

[Mental Health]:  Unlike physical health which is easy to quantify and qualify, mental health is more difficult to investigate.  In a 2004 study involving 147 independent investigations and 100,000 people, across all studies there is a correlation that people with less depression had greater religiousness.   

Critics of this type of study argue that there are other reasons for the reduction in depression.  They point out that religious people are less likely to take drugs or smoke and this is the reason for the lower depression. 

Inadvertently, these critics are proving one of the benefits of religion.  Fewer drug dependent or smoking people is a good thing.  It is not a  reason to question the Hope Effect.  If you want to get off barbiturates or stop smoking you may want to seek out the help from church leaders in addition to others. 

Another study investigated 76 studies and found that 35 studies found that religion reduced anxiety with only 10 reporting a greater anxiety.

C. Measurements of Hope.

There are several tests that can be used to measure hope.  Many tests have been proposed by C.R,. Snyder, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Kansas and editor of Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. He has published many books on the subject including Handbook of Hope Theory (2000), Positive Psychology of Science (2006) and many others.   A glimpse into this measuring method is published in What Exactly is Hope and How can you Measure it.  This is a great reference to read. 

D.  How can one Increase Your Hope Level.

Naomi Drew recommended 8 ways. 

E.  Places that Teach the Benefits of Hope.

The only place where the Power of Hope is taught to any significant degree is in our Churches.  All Christian and Muslim churches have hope as a major element in the teachings.   A great discussion of 10 ways to give people Hope is described in a website by Don Follis.   Another article is also instructive .

Aisha Stacey wrote an article Never Give up- the Power of Hope in the Quran

Prayer is the Second of the Seven Joys of Religion

A. What is Prayer?

In the simplest terms, prayer is a communication of a spiritual nature.  The dictionary adds a request to the definition probably referring to legal lawsuits where a prayer for relief is set forth at the end the document.  

B.  Importance of Prayer. 

Without communication, most animals would not have lasted beyond a few months or years at best.  It is a critical component of survival. 

This is why Prayer is listed as the second of the Seven Joys of Religion.  Communication with a God is even more important since it governs the current life as well as the afterlife. 

A few medical scientists have recognized the health benefits of prayer.  Religious healing has been observed and reported for thousands of years.  Current scientists believe it is similar to meditation and reducing of stress that imparts significant health benefits.   They have measured a reduction of heart rate, cardio-respiratory synchronization, altered levels of melatonin and serotonin, and a host of other positive physical manifestations associated with prayer. 

Studies provide support for prayer being superior to mediation in terms of decrease in anxiety and mood, and tolerance to pain.  [Wachholtz AB, Pargament KI. Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes. J Behav Med 2005;28:369-84.]   

Spontaneous remission and regression have been associated with prayer.  A study on the effectiveness of Spiritual healing concluded that there is a 57% statistically significant treatment effect.  This was based on 123 different trials involving 2774 patients. 

A study in Israel involved following 3393 patients where were diagnosed with a bloodstream infection.  They were divided into a control group and a prayer group.  The patients in the prayer group had significantly shorter hospital stays and fever duration.  [Leibovici L. Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: In randomized controlled trial. BMJ 2001;323:1450-1.]

C  How Does It Work?  

This is a very good question.  The answer is well beyond our knowledge at this time.  But, some believe that this type of communication does have a scientific basis. 

Take for example the identification of each individual who is trying to communicate with God out of the billions of souls on the earth.  If we could talk to God over a cell phone, then each person’s unique information (personal telephone number) is automatically revealed along with the specific location (IP addresses of phone and cell towers). 

God likely found a better way to communicate.  Each person’s unique identification is included in the DNA information located in the nucleus of every living cell.  If God is able to communicate with these cells and access the DNA database, then all of your personal information could be right there.  This also means that each person carries their biological telephone inside them and they can access communications simply by thinking about it.  Hence, the health benefits of prayer as observed in repeated tests is not so strange. 

God could send a signal via your internal telephone for your body to locate the diseased area and send various protective enzymes, antigens, or leukocytes to the rescue. 

The amount of information that can be stored in the DNA molecules is a 100 trillion times larger than our largest computers.  One scientific study puts it at 4.6 X 1020

That means God has access to everything you saw and did from the time you were born and everything your ancestors saw or did that were imprinted on the DNA molecules.  There are multiple segments of science that investigate data imprinting on DNA molecules, i.e. Epigenetics, Methylation, etc.  This indicates that there is far more information stored in the DNA molecules than simply left over evolutionary mutations.  We have only begun to scratch the surface of accessing information stored in our DNA.  

If you currently do not pray, this would be a good time to reconsider your position.  

D.  How does one Access their DNA Telephone? 

 This is likewise currently beyond our understanding.   But the first place to look would be to those who pray on a regular basis.  This would include all religious leaders, their missionaries and their Holy writings. 

The Muslims may have an advantage as they pray five times a day every day and take hours getting ready for prayers. 

One may want to talk to Buddhists.  Some Buddhists meditate for 12 hours to reach a satori experience. Their purpose is to get in touch with their inner self.  That sounds similar to a personal DNA information scan. 

E. How does one know if God has received your Prayer? 

This may be difficult to prove.  Or, it might be hiding in plain sight.  Observable and repeatable medical tests discussed earlier suggest that God is listening and responding.  But there are more than medical studies.

[Happiness Level ] A study was conducted involving 1002 students between 12 and 18 who attended various schools in Australia.  It studied the effect of prayer on happiness as determined by the Oxford Happiness Inventory.  They found that more frequent the prayers were associated with the higher levels of personal happiness.  A similar study was done in Wales with undergraduate students.  The results showed a significant correlation between prayer frequency and happiness.  These publications reference many other studies with similar conclusions.  

[ Suicide Rates ] Suicide rates are higher for non-religious people as compared to religious people. 

The suicide rate of more religious countries is lower than non-religious counties.  There is no correlation relating suicide rates to national income.  Example Guatemala has a religiosity of 75% and a suicide rate of 2.15 and Dominican Republic has a religiosity of 73% and a suicide rate of 1.75.   Whereas as the United States has a religiosity of 61% and a suicide rate of 11; Canada has a religiosity of 49% and a suicide rate of 11.65, France has a religiosity of 30% and a suicide rate of 18.3; and Russia with a religiosity of 28% has a 36.15 suicide rate.  

[Divorce Rates ]  This is a complicated issue as it involves many major issues.  Economics appears to be the biggest reason for divorce.  However, lack of religion and prayer may be a factor.  For example, Russia has a religiosity of 28% and a yearly divorce rate of 4.8/1000 marriages.  The United States has a religiosity of 61% and a divorce rate of 3.2/1000 marriages.

[Life Expectancy].  Religion and prayer boosts lifespan by up to 6.48 years in the United States. A 1994-1998 study comparing Mormon men living in Utah was 7.3 years longer (77.3) compared to non-Mormons (70.0) and 6 years longer for Mormon women in Utah (82.2) compared to the non-Mormon women (76.4).  

The section on Hope discusses improvement in many aspects (student performance, employee satisfaction, prisoners, soldiers, etc.) that are associated with Prayer.  Hope resides inside us and prayer is the communication network. 

These studies provide support that God is listening and hears your prayers. 

Family is the Third Joy

The Family Section presented at the beginning of the JOY chapter covers family benefits, how to handle family bonding and relationships, children, and scientific studies supporting each of those areas.   If you skipped that chapter, now would be a great time to check it out.  This section does not duplicate that chapter, but is limited to its relationship with religion. 

A.  Children’s Moral Education.  

The United States Constitution created a division between Church and State.  As such moral values are not taught in any significant manner in the US Public Education system.

Moral values include compassion, self-discipline, courage, honesty, respect, sharing, non-violent means to solve disputes, dependability, trust, loyalty, helping others, charity, not to steal, not to hurt, etc.  Compounding the problem is that both parents often work outside the home. 

This leaves the children’s moral education primarily addressed by the churches.  The falling church attendance might be responsible, in part, with the rising criminal activity.

B. All Religions Promote Family and Moral Values.

The Christian bible states:

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  1 Timothy 5:8

Children, obey your parents…Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:1-4.

The Vatican’s official opinion is:

“Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society” 

“The family is sacred in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is the most important social unit in time and eternity. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life. ” Quote from the LDS Church Manual on family.

In the Islamic or Muslin religion the family is a vital aspect of the religion. 

Show gratitude to Me and to your parents; to Me is your final goal!”  Noble Quran 31:14

The website islamfaith.com  discusses the importance of the family.  It is called the building block for society.  It discusses that the family fosters unselfish behavior, generosity and love.

C. Activities Directed to Families.

Churches have land, facilities, people, and time to promote activities directed to family events.  If there is an activity or celebration that involves children, parents, or both, it will be on one of the church websites or flyers in ever community, large or small.  To discover them is as easy as an internet search in your area.  There are literally hundreds and hundreds of examples.  A few are shown in the links below. 

Forgiveness is the Fourth Joy

A.  Definition of Forgiveness.

Psychologists define forgiveness as a deliberate decision to release feeling of anger, resentment and/or vengeance toward another or group regardless as to whether they are deserving.   The dictionary is broader by adding the element of “being forgiven.”  This would include forgiving yourself. 

B. All Religions Promote Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a fundamental element of all religions.  Many religious leaders believe that this is the most important of the Seven Joys of Religion.

Christians: 

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Matthew 26:28 

 Muslims:

“…if you pardon and overlook and forgive – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”  Quran 64:14

 “The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” Quran, 42:40

 Hindus:

“But, this must really be considered a flaw because forgiveness is indeed the greatest strength. Indeed, forgiveness is a virtue of the weak and an adornment of the powerful.” Mahābhārata  5.33.48

 When a spark of fire falls on a place that has no straw, it gets extinguished automatically. And he who never forgives others enmeshes himself with great flaws.”  Mahābhārata  5.33.47

Buddhists:   Buddhists have no central book such as the Bible or Quran.  It has a collection of Holy Writings. 

“In Buddhism, forgiveness means letting go of anger. It does not condone someone’s actions, but frees us from the continued suffering of holding resentment and hatred against those who have harmed us. ”  Quote From Ven. Thubten Chonyi

C. How do you Know What Needs to be Forgiven?

This is a question not addressed in most articles and books.  The following are a few guidelines.

[Severity]  The resentment or pain must be strong and continual or recurring.  For example:

  • Do you think about the triggering event more than 5 times each week over the last month?
  • Do you get angry by seeing the person or group who you perceive caused it?
  • Do you go out of your way to avoid seeing or being close to that person or group?
  • Do you have physical manifestations whenever you think about the person or event such as increased blood pressure, sweating, flushing, quick to anger, etc.
  • Does it involve a statement, action, or activity that seriously violates normal social standards. Examples would include criminal acts, civil tortuous acts, physical injury, widespread or public broadcasts (false or misleading story in the media), etc.

Every objectionable statement or occurrence should not invoke internal resentment or pain.  If it does, you may have what they call an emotional “thin-skin.”  That is, you may be insecure or lack self-confidence to face everyday situations. 

If you cannot determine whether the resentment or vengeance is substantial, then seek outside advice.  Talk to your clergy, a trusted friend, parent, or psychologist to help with determining if your resentment is real, substantial, and continual or recurring. 

[Frequency ]   How often should forgiveness be invoked?  That question varies dramatically depending on the political, social, religious, and economic conditions in the area.  Forgiving someone every day, suggests an emotional thin-skin.

The Bible reports that Jesus said forgiveness should be 490 times:

“Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’(Matthew 18:21-22) 

It does not say over what period. 

The Catechisms of the Catholic Church (CCC 1457) states that the faithful should confess and seek forgiveness at least once a year.  Many priests recommend that confession be at least once per month.

[Age when to forgive]   Between birth and 6, children do not have significant capacity for comprehensive reasoning.  A child reading a short story will have difficulty understanding “why” the characters in the story did what they did. 

Between ages 6 and 12 children become aware of the benefits of receiving forgiveness.  They begin to understand the power of the words “I’m sorry,” in relieving stress and developing social skills.

During the adolescent years children become more and more aware of the benefits to them in forgiving others.  Unfortunately, during the adolescent years the hormones are so active that it influences them more than analytical thinking can control.  However, the training they receive at home and at church is critically important for the adult years to come. 

[Forgetting verses Forgiving.]  These are entirely different concepts but have overlapping benefits.  Forgiving is an intentional act to discharge internal anger, resentment and vengeance.  It is something learned and can be used to reduce stress in other situations. 

Forgetting is an unconscious event normally outside our control.  It is not a learned trait nor can it be employed to reduce stress in other situations.

But both have the effect of discharging internal anger, resentment, and vengeance.  

D. How to Forgive.

A Harvard University publication on “the power of forgiveness,” is instructive.   It talks about deciding to forgive may be difficult.  But, convincing the emotions to let go requires perseverance, healing, and courage.  The severity of the anger and resentment controls the amount of effort involved.  Some may take many years.  Sarah Montana explained forgiveness in a catastrophic situation in a Ted Talk.  The talk is simultaneously heart wrenching and inspirational. 

Jon Negroni outlined  7 steps to True Forgiveness. Others professionals have listed 15 steps, or 9 steps, or 8 steps, or 5 Biblical steps, or 4 steps.

Gratitude & Compliments Combine to make the Fifth Joy

A. Definition of Gratitude.

The dictionary defines gratitude as appreciation and thankfulness.   It is the good feelings associated with recognizing the priceless qualities of the people, and things you have in your life.  The word comes from the Latin word of Gratitudinem which means thankfulness.  The various religions adopt Gratitude as a major founding principle.

B. Definition of Compliment.

The dictionary defines this word as:  An expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration.    At first blush these two words –Gratitude and Compliment appear independent from each other. 

But they are directly related. 
C. Religious Teachings.

Christians:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1.Thessalonians 5:18.

Muslims:

“Why should God make you suffer torment if you are thankful and believe in Him? God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” Quran 4:147. 

Hindus:

“Some people complain because God put thorns on roses. Others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.”  Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami 

Buddhists:

“These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.” Anguttara Nikaya (AN 2:118)

D. Gratitude and Compliments are Related.

Gratitude deals with “positive emotions” you receive by being thankful for what you have.   Compliments deal with “positive emotions” others receive when you impart gratitude to others.  That is, a compliment causes others to become thankful by thinking about qualities and things inside them.  The compliment indirectly causes the person to recognize those priceless qualities they have.

Therefore, Gratitude is being thankful for what you have, and Compliments cause others to become thankful for what they have. 

Here is a hidden surprise. There are benefits to the person giving the compliments as explained in paragraph G.

E. Gratitude – Appreciating What You Have.

It is easy to set aside, ignore, or even forget many of the good things that you have.  By doing that, you are suppressing the joy within you.  By avoiding gratitude, it promotes fear and suppresses joy.

[Things to Appreciate]

God tops the list followed by people you know and enjoy.  This includes your parents, family, and friends.  Your physical and mental health are important.  This includes your senses, such as sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and balance.   Your happiness includes your self-esteem, laughter, relationships, love, nature and beauty, intelligence, music, and a long list of other factors.  A list of things from playing tag as a child to growing old are set forth in an entertaining YouTube™ video.

[Health Benefits] 

There are many studies that practicing gratitude can improve intimacy, physical and mental health, fewer trips to the doctor, and greater happiness.   Harvard Medical School published an article entitled “Giving thanks can make you happier.”

[Frequency] 

Studies show that people who list those things for which they are thankful each night at bedtime improves sleep quality.   They theorize that it diminishes anxiety and stress allowing more restful entry to sleep.  Giving thanks before each meal relaxes the gut and provides improved digestion.  Surprisingly it also decreases the urge to overeat

The Mayo Clinic confirms that daily gratitude practice boosts the immune system and decreases the risk of disease.

Hence, the science suggests that giving thanks at every meal and at bedtime carries enormous health benefits.   

[Out Loud or Silently]

A University of California, Berkeley study found that saying “thanks” out loud had the most positive impacts.    Saying thanks out loud also helps those around you.

Announcing thanks out loud is not bragging.  Bragging is a pompous or boastful statement.  Those words are intentional actions implying “I have more than you.”  That is not what appreciating or giving thanks means.  If your announcement comes across as a boast, then rephrase it.  

F. Giving Compliments Causes Others to Appreciate that which They Have.

[Benefits to Those Receiving the Compliment There are many, books, articles and scientific studies that address the benefits of receiving compliments.  It improves self-esteem, reduces stress, and increases emotional wellbeing.  But here are some hidden benefits.   Compliments improve performance. 

In a study, 48 adults were asked to learn a specific finger pattern on a keyboard.  After learning those patterns, they were divided into three groups.  The first group received compliments.  The second group watched others receive compliments, and the third group evaluated their own performances.  All three groups were asked to repeat the finger pattern.  Those who received compliments did 53% better than the group receiving no compliments. 

[Never Give Fake Compliments]  

Giving a fake compliment raises the possibility that it will be interpreted as sarcasm.   As such, it is better not to give a compliment if it is obviously fake.  One way to avoid your compliment from being misinterpreted is to incorporate specific facts. 

[Basic Rules for Giving Compliments]

There are a few guidelines that make it easier. 

  1. Observation.   One cannot give another an honest compliment without first observing the person and the surroundings.  Therefore discretely observe the person’s facial and physical features, attire, demeanor, voice, conversation, presence, and other surrounding factors.  The sole purpose is to find something to support a compliment. It is a must and it becomes easier with practice.
    • For example, a classic car owner may have a name on his 57 Chevy.   “Neat name.  How’d you come up with it?”
  2. Always look directly at the person’s eyes when making a compliment. Looking down or away suggests that the compliment may not be sincere. 
  3. Smile.  
  4. Talk slowly. Use no more than 2 words per second.  1.5 words per second is preferred.
  5.  When you can, use the person’s name. 

[Hints on Giving Compliments] 

  1. Use Specific Facts.  When giving a compliment, it is best to use specific facts, like:
    • Your warm brown eyes are captivating.
    • “Thank you for sitting us at a window seat.  We enjoy people watching.”
  2.  Incorporate a Positive Personality Trait.
    • You have a fantastic memory. This is only my second time here, and you remembered I ordered a _____.” 
    • I really appreciate your friendship.
    • You are incredibly talented in telemarketing.”
    • I love your keen sense of humor.” [One study found that complimenting someone on his or her “sense of humor” had the highest positive response.]
  3.  What and Why Approach.
    • When formulating a compliment include what action you are referring to and why their action is appreciated. 
    • Store manager to a Cashier: “I overheard your last customer talking about how you helped them enter their customer number.  This is the type of feedback I love to hear” 
    • Father to Daughter. “Beth’s father called me and told me that you stood up for Beth at school rehearsal.  I am so proud of you.”
    • Dog Caretaker to Dog Owner. “Your puppy Bowser had free access to the house and did not make any potty mistakes.  Your hours of training have paid off in spades.  Thank you.”

[How Often Should Compliments be given?] 

The general rule is all the time.  Here is a guideline:

  • Spouse:  Minimum 2 times day. 
  • Children:  Minimum of 2 times per day.
  • Friend:  Each time you get together.
  • Stranger:  At least once per week.

G. Your Compliments to Others Also Benefit You.

Although giving compliments help those receiving the compliment, this section relates to the effect of giving compliments on you—the one giving the compliment.  It triggers a “feel good” emotion by observing that the person receiving the compliment appreciates you, usually with a smile.  Why?  No one knows, but many have expressed opinions.

  • Some believe that it is a sign of acceptance. The return smile acknowledges your approval. 
  • Others believe that giving a compliment satisfies an inner desire to receive a compliment. This is similar to a pay it forward  scenario.
  • Giving compliments may satisfy a charitable desire by offering a gift.
  • Giving a compliment builds your self-confidence. It does this by getting you out of your comfort zone.  The more you practice the less stressful it becomes when talking to people, including strangers.  

It is important that you discretely observe the person your complimenting. 

  • Did they smile?
  • Did they nod?
  • Did their tone soften?
  • Did they thank you?
  • Did they appear more relaxed?
  • Did they become more eager to engage in conversation.

These observations are for your benefit only.  It is a reward.  Although you might not know it, this reward has been automatically logged into your brain.  Studies have shown that you will likely smile sometime during your sleep.  

Gratitude, along with its hidden companion compliments, is nearly as powerful as forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the purging of negative emotions (anger and resentment) while Gratitude is the receiving of positive joy.   Many believe that Gratitude and Compliments ranks high on the list of the Seven Joys of Religion.

Compassion​ and Charity Comprise the Sixth Joy

A. Definitions.

Compassion is defined as a sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress and a desire to alleviate it.  Charity is generosity toward the needy or suffering.   The two are clearly connected.  One is an internal desire to alleviate pain in others and the other is action to accomplish it.   Click on the Read More link to learn how religion guides these definitions, benefits received, and how to be more compassionate.

B. Religious Connection.

Christians

Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:30-34

Muslims:

Compassion is used everywhere in the Quran.  For example the beginning of a prayer usually starts with  “In the name of God, the Compassionate…..” 

Hindus

Daya is considered a holy quality.  It means compassion and sympathy.

Buddhism:

 The dictionary definition of karuna as: 

  “compassion that is a fundamental quality in the bodhisattva ideal of Mahayana Buddhism” 

C. Benefits of Compassion and Charity.

The Dalai Lama summed up compassion as follows: 

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” 

Practicing compassion implies an action step and that that means charity.

There are many published scientific studies that back this up.  Toddlers are happier after giving up something.   A study of babies showed that their pupils enlarged when they felt sorry for the person in need. 

 A German study of 24 18-month old toddlers showed that children in the experimental group leaned to voluntarily help others as compared to those in the control group.

A Harvard Study showed that a person’s first instinct is to cooperate and not compete.

People who were happy had a lower level of cellular inflammation.

A comprehensive review of the scientific studies showed many benefits associated with compassion and charity.

A Stanford study reported that criticizing ourselves makes us more susceptible to failure while exercising self-compassion had the opposite affect. 

D. How to Become More Compassionate.

There are many publications and videos that suggest ways to become more compassionateLearning Religions has proven helpful. 

Solemn Ceremonies is the Seventh Joy

A. Definition of Solemn Ceremony.

It is a formal and dignified act or observance usually prescribed by ritual, protocol, or convention.

B. Types of Religious Ceremonies.

The churches have many types of ceremonies, but all cover the big three: Marriage, Birth, and Death. These three ceremonies cover core principles of each religion. 

[Weddings]  Most traditional church weddings have many benefits.  For example, church weddings are always solemn and serious.  The church leaders will usually not entertain a marriage based on a whim, bet, spur of the moment, while intoxicated, etc.  Most churches provide free wedding marriage counseling. 

Church weddings for members are usually free or come with a voluntary small donation.  And the facilities are often elaborate, beautiful, and large enough to accommodate hundreds of people.  Equivalent non-religious facilities can be many thousands of dollars.  All churches have sufficient parking for the wedding party and guests and usually without any fees.   

[Births]   This is another solemn ceremony.   Within 40 days of birth Sikhs bring their babies to a temple and the baby’s name is announced to the congregation.  In Judaism the baby’s name is announced with the name carrying a spiritual significance.  Hindus have an ear piecing ceremony called Karnavedha to ward off evil spirits.  Baptism is the most popular ceremony where a baby is washed with water to cleanse the child of any sins.  In Islam the church leader whispers a prayer to the newborn’s right ear known as Adhan.  After 7 days the baby’s head is shaved to cleanse the baby from impurities. 

[Death]   There are many reasons why there are funerals.  Perhaps the number one reason is to bring closure and begin the process of healing.  Another reason is to remember the good things that the deceased has brought to us during their lifetime.  Actively offering and then providing support to the surviving family members and loved ones is important.  Finally, a prayer to help the deceased in the afterlife, and a prayer to the surviving members that the deceased will be in better place in the comfort with their prior loved ones who have preceded them. 

Churches provide the facilities, people, and organization to conduct the funeral.  The churches also provide the support for the loved ones.  The funeral is almost always done without fees or costs. 

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