Even if i I have been a Catholic since I was a child, and for most of my adult life, I did not pay much attention to religion. Like many scientists, I think it is based on opinions, conjectures and even hopes, and therefore has nothing to do with my work. This work is running a psychology laboratory, focusing on finding ways to improve the human condition, using scientific tools to develop technologies that can help people cope with life challenges. But in the 20 years since I started this work, I have realized how psychologists and neuroscientists can change people’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors—how to support them when they are sad, and how to help them become more moral. , How to make them find connection and happiness-echoing the thought and technology that religion has used for thousands of years.
Science and religion are often contradictory. However, if we remove theology from our daily practice of religious beliefs-views on the nature of God, the creation of the universe, etc., the hostility in the debate will disappear. What we are left with is a series of rituals, customs, and emotions, which are themselves the result of various experiments. For thousands of years, these experiments carried out in messy lives, rather than sterile laboratories, led to what we might call mental techniques—tools and processes designed to soothe, move, persuade, or otherwise adjust the mind . Research on these techniques shows that certain parts of religious practice, even when separated from the spiritual environment, can influence people’s thinking in a measurable way that psychologists often seek.
For example, my laboratory found that allowing people to practice Buddhist meditation in a short period of time will make them more friendly.After studying with Buddhist lamas for eight weeks, 50% of our randomly assigned people meditate every day Spontaneously help a miserable stranger. Only 16% of people who do not meditate do so. (Actually, this stranger is an actor we hired. When trying to find a seat in a crowded room, he will use a cane and wear a detachable foot model.) Compassion is not limited to stranger, Although; it also applies to the enemy.other Learn Studies have shown that after three weeks of meditation, most people no longer seek revenge from people who insulted them, which is different from most people who do not meditate. Once my team observed these far-reaching effects, we began to look for other connections between our previous research and existing religious rituals.
For example, gratitude is something we have carefully studied, and it is also a key element of many religious practices.Christians often say grace before meals; Jews thank God Mode Ani Pray after waking up every day. When we study the act of gratitude, even in a secular context, we find that it makes people more ethical.in a Learn People can get more money by lying about the result of a coin toss, but most people (53%) cheat. But for those of us who first asked to count their blessings, this number dropped sharply. Among them, only 27% chose to lie.We have also discovered that people become More helpful, More generous, Even More patient.
Even very subtle behaviors—such as moving together in time—can have a major impact on the mind.We see synchronicity in almost all religions in the world: Buddhists and Hindus often pray together; Christians and Muslims often kneel and stand together during worship; Jews often waver, or Pass by, When chanting together. These actions obscure a deep purpose: to make connections. To see how it works, we let a pair of strangers sit across a table, put on headphones, and then tap the sensor on the table in front of them every time they hear a sound. For some of these pairs, the pitch sequence matches, which means they will strike hands in unison. For others, they are random, which means that the hand movements will not be synchronized. After that, we created a situation where one member of each pair was stuck while completing a long and arduous task.Not only those who have been moving their hands in unison report that it feels More connection and sympathy Among their partners who are now working hard, 50% decide to extend a helping hand to their partners—compared with 18% who decide to help without synchronizing their actions.
The combined effects of simple elements like this—changing our feelings, our beliefs, and the people we can rely on—will accumulate over time. When they are integrated into religious activities, research shows that they can have certain protective properties.often Participate in religious activities Reduce anxiety and depression, enhance physical health, and even reduce the risk of premature death. These benefits do not just come from general social contact.There is something Specific to spiritual practice they themselves.