Why Negative Thinking Has Cognitive and Emotional Benefits

Envisioning all possible outcomes is far healthier than only praying for the best. 

Grandmaster chess player Garry Kasparov contemplates a move in a match against grandmaster Fabiano Caruana during the final day of the Grand Chess Tour at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in St. Louis on August 18, 2017. (Photo: Bill Greenblatt/AFP/G

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The Science of Worship: Why Are Religious People Healthier and Happier?

Rabbi Darren Levine explains how the psychology of happiness intersects with religious practice.

Science and religion have a complicated history. Scientists cannot quantify God—God is pretty difficult to bring into the laboratory, quips Rabbi Darren Levine—but what they can study and measure is the effect of faith on people's well-being and life satisfaction. When religious wisdom is taught and enacted well, it focuses on ideals like deepening relationships with family and friends, personal responsibility, and making a positive impact in the world. Levine is a proponent of positive Judaism, which merges key characteristics of positive psychology with practices of reformed Judaism. The field of psychology is often mired in humanity's flaws, but positive psychology is a movement that aims to study people's strengths rather than their weaknesses. The same shift can be true for religion, and nurtured by the power of community. Rabbi Levine sums it up in five letters: PERMA, which stand for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Together, those five pillars can foster greater happiness and health.