Belief in ‘Oneness’ Leads to Life Satisfaction, says Study
People who adhere to the spiritual teaching of oneness – the idea that everything in the world is connected and interdependent – appear to have greater life satisfaction than those who don’t, regardless of whether they are religious or not, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
The research was published in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Laura Marie Edinger-Schons conducted two surveys involving nearly 75,000 people in Germany.
In the first survey, more than 7,000 participants, recruited as part of a cooperation project between the university and a company, were asked to respond to a series of statements designed to measure their belief in oneness (e.g., “I believe that everything in the world is based on a common principle” or “Everything in the world is interdependent and influenced by each other”).
They were also asked to respond to items measuring other concepts associated with oneness, such as social connectedness, connectedness to nature and empathy as well as life satisfaction.
Edinger-Schons found a significant correlation between scores on her oneness scale and the concepts associated with oneness, suggesting that it was a valid measure of the concept.
More importantly, she also found that people with higher oneness scores reported significantly greater life satisfaction.
To determine whether oneness scores were variable over time or a more fixed construct, the same survey was administered to the same group of people six weeks later.
While a little more than 3,000 of them responded, Edinger-Schons still found that oneness beliefs had not changed significantly and therefore might be stable over time.
“Obviously, oneness beliefs are more than a situation-specific feeling or mood,” she said. “They rather seem to represent a general attitude toward life.”
She added: “I recognized that in various philosophical and religious texts, a central idea is the idea of oneness.
“In my free time, I enjoy surfing, Capoeira, meditation and yoga, and all of these have been said to lead to experiences that can be described as being at one with life or nature or just experiencing a state of flow through being immersed in the activity.
“I was wondering whether the larger belief in oneness is something that is independent of religious beliefs and how it affects satisfaction with life.”
Participants came from a variety of religious backgrounds, including Protestant denominations, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism
More than a quarter of those who identified their beliefs said they were atheist.
Read more: Why Meditate? A Guide