There hasn’t been anything more misrepresented in history as faith. We owe this misrepresentation more to the religions than to anything else, as there have been more wars in the name of religion than for anything else. However, faith itself is alien to wars because if you have faith in something higher, then any sort of violence would seem simply pointless. Those who utilize the faith of others to fulfill their own selfish means are just hypocrites. Therefore, before finding out the overall benefits of faith, it is important that we learn what does faith exactly means.
Signs that you have true faith
Faith is a part of human nature. It is something that most of the religions of the world profess. However, since the selfish part of our nature is so strong, time and time again we find people using religion to justify their own selfish desires. So, religion is not to be confused with faith. Although you are most likely to find faith among religious people, nevertheless, those aren’t the only ones with it. Even someone who is not really religious but has faith in God or something higher than himself has faith. Moreover, you don’t have to go by someone’s word to believe that they have faith or not. There are a lot of hypocrites out there trying to cheat people in the name of God. You can tell if a person has faith or not by observing them for the following seven signs of faith.
1. Feel the pain of others
Even the people who have faith in themselves, actually have faith in a higher conception of themselves. They know that they are more than just body and mind, and so is everybody else. Both body and mind are subject to pain, however, the spirit or the soul inside you are free from it. Once you realize this, you also understand that suffering is natural to humans, and many times it is inevitable. This not only helps you in being more empathetic towards your own self but to others too. You feel their pain and you try your best to ease their suffering by diverting their attention to higher beliefs.
2. Look at the higher picture
Science also states this fact. The known universe has been there for 13.7 billion years and it would be there for a much longer time than that. When you compare the life of an average human to this number, it doesn’t even come out as a fraction. It’s almost zero. However, if you are religious enough, you know that your life is something more than this. You consist of the same matter that was a part of the stars a few billion years ago. Your DNA has imprints of the earliest life forms on the planet. Everything is connected. When you wholeheartedly believe in this, the everyday problems of your life seem extremely small.
There are many types of optimism. Philosophy is full of them. Take, for example, one of the popular optimistic quotes by Nietzsche, ‘If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.’ This is the type of optimism that leads one to success and achievement. However, the type of optimism that faith breeds are of a different kind. This optimism of faith doesn’t just come from a belief in a better future, it comes by acceptance of the present. For even if you convince people with true faith that the future is dark, they would be grateful to God for giving them the opportunity to serve humanity.
This is one of the subtlest signs of true faith. It’s as if nature speaks to you. Now that you believe in something higher, and not in money or power, you get a very unbiased view of life. This allows you to see people the way normal people can’t do. Just by observing the vibes of people, you can tell if there’s something wrong with them or not. This makes you find the company of the most beautiful people. In addition, since you know that there’s a problem with someone, this also motivates you to find secret ways to help others out.
5. Attract positive thoughts
Another benefit of having faith is that people cannot come up with something negative in your company. Your face itself shows that there’s nothing of that sort inside you. So, either people automatically start talking about the good things in life or they simply move out of your way. The higher power that you believe in lends some of its enigmatic charms to you. This helps you out in bringing out the best in the people around you.
6. Inner peace
When you believe that there’s a higher power controlling everything, a great peace dawns upon you. You start looking at your past as your destiny and your memories never bother you. It’s as if you have successfully calmed down a huge surging ocean inside you and now it has become a lake. Just like one can see the bottom of the clean lake by just looking into it, in the same way, you are now able to look into the depths of your conscience and no matter how deep you look inside it, you find peace and nothing else.
You see all the suffering in the world and you realize that if everyone had true faith, life would be much more peaceful and beautiful. On one hand, this urges you to drive others on the path towards true faith. On the other hand, you can’t help feeling thankful for what you have. There are so many people all around the world and only a tiny fraction of them have faith in something higher. You realize this and can’t help feeling grateful for that. This not only shows on your face, but your entire being emanates this gratefulness.
Benefits of Faith for Body and Mind
While doing research related to physical or mental health, the researchers rarely consider aspects like religiousness and faith of the person. However, the research done by Prakash B. Behere, Anweshak Das, Richa Yadav, and Aniruddh P. Behere, which was published in Indian Physiatry Journal expounds upon the mistake that we commit while we do so. This research states that faith is an important aspect of human life, which shouldn’t be ignored. By ignoring it, we are not taking into account something that has a tremendous impact on one’s life. According to this research, faith generally has a positive effect on one’s mental health. Here are seven ways faith benefits our body and mind.
1. Less anxiety about the future
There are a lot of religions that induce guilt among people by saying that they would have to reckon for their past actions in hell. It might prove as a fearful motivation for some, but in others, it brings up feelings of guilt and anxiety. These feelings might stay when you are on the way towards faith, but once you have it, they disappear. Since you know that a higher power is controlling everything, you don’t worry about anything. All this, however, doesn’t stop you for working towards the benefit of society, as you know that the best way to be happy is to stay in the present and to serve.
2. Cures existential angst
Anyone who has ever taken his life seriously has definitely pondered over existential questions about life. The most serious questions like ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Why am I here?’ plague only the thoughtful. There’s no single answer to these questions, and depending upon their personalities, everyone draws a different meaning out of them. Reading too much philosophy might make you answer them negatively and bring pessimism into your life. Faith, on the other hand, helps you utilize these questions as perennial sources of positive energy. It teaches you how your purpose on this planet is to love and to serve.
3. Fewer chances of hypertension
Amongst the few kinds of research done on the relationship of faith and health, one is about its relation with hypertension. This study was done on religiously active older adults by Duke University Medical Center and included over 4000 people. According to this study, those who were spiritually active had 40% less chance of suffering from hypertension, when compared to those who aren’t that active. This came as a surprise to the researches, but when you take a look at the relationship between hypertension and stress, it doesn’t seem that surprising. Faith shields us from the stress of everyday life, which might be the reason why it also lowers the blood pressure.
4. Higher satisfaction with life
Did you know that the so-called cream of the society, i.e. the CEOs and directors are more prone to depression than common people? This clearly shows that money might not be as conducive to peace of mind as most of us would like to believe. According to a study done by the American Sociological Review, faith helps people form strong bonds within their congregation fostering the feeling of trust and common purpose. When you believe that you have a higher purpose in life and you are devoted towards it unconditionally, satisfaction comes naturally to you.
5. Better life expectancy
A study done by Wallace and colleagues on obituaries, which was published in Des Moines Register stated that people having religious affiliation tend to live 6.48 years on average when you compare it to the non-believers. The reason behind this increase was supposed to be a lower tendency of alcohol and drug abuse in people with faith. Moreover, many religions also promote other wellness activities like meditation and prayer. These also contribute significantly to one’s longevity. In addition to all this, since old people who have faith bond together very well. This feeling of community gives them a constant motivation to live.
6. Coping up with reality
Patients that are terminally ill often give up on life. However, patients with strong faith stand out from the others during such hard times. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Medical Association provided conclusive evidence of the same. In this study, 345-patients were interviewed who were at the last stage of Cancer. Amongst these, the patients that had a strong faith showed higher resilience against the disease, when compared to the ones who had low levels of faith. The rate of resuscitation was almost four times in the case of patients with higher faith.
7. Relieves depression
When you are inclined to spirituality, it is easier for you to have a reliable support system, especially when it comes to mental health problems. Depression is a physical ailment and it is true that faith cannot cure it, but it can surely help you in better coping up with it. In fact, a study done on 159 individuals by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts found out that the people who had faith in God showed a better response to the treatment. Moreover, those who didn’t have any faith in God were twice as likely to not respond to the treatment.
How to develop faith
You would never find anyone who has faith and wants to give up, but there are plenty of those who don’t have it but want it. There’s only one problem with faith, it comes naturally, you cannot force to have faith. The best you can do is leave the doors open for it. Many times, people develop faith after experience something out of their senses. For many others, it develops slowly with time. You can even have a mixture of the two i.e. you experience something all of a sudden and as you understand it slowly faith develops in you.
One way you can experience something out of the senses is by practicing mindfulness meditation, but it generally doesn’t work until you’ve been practicing it long enough. It requires patience. Other paths that might lead to faith are prayer andservice. Even if you don’t believe in something higher, you should try all these methods as they would surely bring peace into your lives.