Spirituality and Positive Psychology

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 27801

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Advanced Studies, Achva Academic College; Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa, Israel
Interests: positive psychology; existential psychology; meaning in life; logotherapy; spirituality; spiritual development; positive change; change and growth processes; transformative life experiences

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

The focus of this issue is on providing a holistic view of the relationship between spirituality and positive psychology constructs in theory and practice. Given that well-being is not only the absence of mental illness but also the presence of positive psychological resources, the purpose of the present issue is to enrich scholarly understanding of the multitude of dimensions and perspectives related to human wellness, growth and potential.

The long-standing science of the psychology of religion and spirituality has unfolded over the last few decades, demonstrating evidence regarding the association between spirituality and greater well-being and better mental and physical health, and its role as a moderator for psychological adjustment to negative life experiences. At the same time, given the fast-paced growth in empirical evidence and interventions that the field of positive psychology has accomplished since its emergence in 1998, broadening and deepening the understanding of positive human functioning and growth entails an integrative and holistic view—that takes into account various perspectives and aspects. Addressing the full range of human conditions, emotions and concerns can deepen our understanding of positive human functioning, flourishing, growth and mental health and portray “life worth living” as a whole. Topics of shared interest may include hope, forgiveness, gratitude, humility, resilience, compassion, awe, elevation, meaning and self-transcendence, offering a richer and more integrative view of human experience.

This issue will explore potential meeting points between spirituality, broadly defined, and positive psychology. The different orientations, backgrounds and propositions of the science of positive psychology and spirituality provide a fertile ground for a potential dialogue, based on each unique contribution to the understanding of the core essences of life worth living.

Dr. Pninit Russo-Netzer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • positive psychology
  • well-being
  • spirituality
  • growth
  • mindfulness
  • meaning in life
  • wholeness
  • spiritual development
  • character strengths
  • PTG
  • hope
  • resilience
  • awe
  • elevation
  • self-transcendence
  • wholeness

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 538 KiB  
Article
Senior Mental Health Scenarios in Thai Buddhist Contexts: A Qualitative Study
by Saowalak Langgapin, Waraporn Boonchieng, Sineenart Chautrakarn and Narong Maneeton
Religions 2024, 15(4), 440; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040440 - 31 Mar 2024
Viewed by 594
Abstract
This study delves into the global mental health challenges confronting the elderly within Thailand’s Buddhist context. It explores seniors’ perspectives on mental health distress, factors, and interventions, alongside monks’ viewpoints on traditional Buddhist approaches and their role in addressing these challenges. Our thematic [...] Read more.
This study delves into the global mental health challenges confronting the elderly within Thailand’s Buddhist context. It explores seniors’ perspectives on mental health distress, factors, and interventions, alongside monks’ viewpoints on traditional Buddhist approaches and their role in addressing these challenges. Our thematic analysis of qualitative research engaged 36 participants, comprising health volunteer monks and seniors from Northern Thailand, to identify primary themes and sub-themes. The perspectives on senior mental health scenarios highlight seniors’ experiences of stress, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness, influenced by factors like age, health, family, finances, and social isolation. Interventions encompass health care, religious practices, and community support. Monks advocate for integrating Buddhism into daily life, encouraging active participation, and addressing senior mental health issues, emphasizing their pivotal role, the embodiment of monastic ideals, and the challenges hindering their involvement. The research highlights the significance of empowering monastic involvement, acknowledging monks as representatives of monastic principles, even in the face of obstacles limiting their participation. This study uncovers a trend in Thai Buddhist communities where physical health and religious aspects take precedence over the mental well-being of seniors. It advocates for a comprehensive approach that integrates religious and mental health strategies, highlighting Buddhism’s impact on seniors’ mental wellness. The implications span spirituality, religious studies, mental health, and elderly care policy, emphasizing the crucial role of Buddhist practices and monks in enhancing the mental well-being of the elderly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
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19 pages, 433 KiB  
Article
Assessing Research Trends in Spiritual Growth: The Case for Self-Determined Learning
by Esa Hukkinen, Johannes M. Lütz and Tony Dowden
Religions 2023, 14(6), 809; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060809 - 19 Jun 2023
Viewed by 2076
Abstract
A review of the contemporary Australian church reveals a spiritual malaise in which passive learning has become the main staple for many church members or attendees. This sense is heightened by demographic trends over the last fifty years that reflect a sustained decline [...] Read more.
A review of the contemporary Australian church reveals a spiritual malaise in which passive learning has become the main staple for many church members or attendees. This sense is heightened by demographic trends over the last fifty years that reflect a sustained decline in Australians identifying as religious. Although commitment to Christianity is seemingly softening, this sociodemographic picture is contraindicated by other research that reflects a growing hunger for spirituality among many Australians. Given this disparity, there is an opportunity to re-examine pertinent understandings of spiritual growth. In the literature, notions of spiritual growth are conceptualised by a variety of definitions and operationalised by a range of tools and practices. Analysis suggests that many models are limited by linearity, passivity, and reductionism and do not adequately resonate with the complexities inherent in spiritual growth. This literature review extends previous research by examining the state of the art in relation to spiritual growth. The paper converges around the synthesis that heutagogy and coaching are effective twin strategies that may direct self-determined learning towards enhanced spiritual growth. This paper conceptualises opportunities for future research and thereby lays the foundation for an important emergent research agenda. This article charts pertinent perspectives and prospects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
31 pages, 1385 KiB  
Article
Does Workplace Spirituality Increase Self-Esteem in Female Professional Dancers? The Mediating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital and Team Trust
by Seung-hye Jung
Religions 2023, 14(4), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040445 - 25 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2164
Abstract
Based on the self-transcendence theory and immaturity-maturity theory, this study empirically tested the influence of female professional dancers’ workplace spirituality on positive psychological capital, team trust, and self-esteem. The subjects of this study were female professional dancers. We conducted the surveys in two [...] Read more.
Based on the self-transcendence theory and immaturity-maturity theory, this study empirically tested the influence of female professional dancers’ workplace spirituality on positive psychological capital, team trust, and self-esteem. The subjects of this study were female professional dancers. We conducted the surveys in two countries—the United States and the United Kingdom—and ultimately obtained 441 samples. To test the hypotheses, we performed a structural equation model analysis using three statistical programs: SmartPLS, GSCA Pro, and jamovi. (1) The workplace spirituality of female professional dancers showed a statistically significant positive influence on positive psychological capital, team trust, and self-esteem. (2) The positive psychological capital of female professional dancers showed a statistically significant positive influence on team trust and self-esteem. (3) The team trust of female professional dancers showed a statistically significant positive influence on self-esteem (except when using jamovi). This study found that fostering workplace spirituality was paramount for female professional dancers in an organization. Accordingly, we outlined four recommendations for the organizations: (1) convey the importance of the organization’s mission and values to organizational members; (2) increase each organizational member’s decision-making and autonomy; (3) encourage members to cooperate while working in the domains of their specific positions; and (4) discourage members from neglecting their organizational responsibilities and resorting to egoism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
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11 pages, 788 KiB  
Article
From Positive to Idealistic: A Methodological Critique of Positive Psychology for Better Research on Idealistic Mentalities in Chinese Spiritual Traditions
by Yuchun Liu, Xintong Dong, Haohao Zhao, Jingyi Zhou and Xianglong Zeng
Religions 2022, 13(11), 1107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13111107 - 16 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1546
Abstract
Chinese spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism all emphasize the cultivation of idealistic mentalities (IMs) which are (1) not yet achieved, (2) clear in value judgment, (3) systematic and stable, and (4) cultivated with systematic training. While IMs are of interest [...] Read more.
Chinese spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism all emphasize the cultivation of idealistic mentalities (IMs) which are (1) not yet achieved, (2) clear in value judgment, (3) systematic and stable, and (4) cultivated with systematic training. While IMs are of interest to positive psychology, the methodology of positive psychology limits research on IMs. Fundamentally, positive psychology focuses on widely existing positive concepts and emphasizes being value-free, which conflicts with the features of IMs. Positive psychological studies relevant to IMs also suffer from methodological limitations: (1) recruiting samples without a spiritual background (realistic assumption); (2) ignoring qualitative differences between levels of actualization of IMs (linear assumption); (3) dividing systematic mental patterns into separate elements (reductionism); and (4) lacking value clarification during interventions. In summary, this article illustrates the methodological limitations of positive psychology in research on IMs. It encourages further research on IMs and supports the necessity of developing a new idealistic psychology for better research on IMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
15 pages, 420 KiB  
Article
Does Spirituality Influence Happiness and Academic Performance?
by Rajasekhar David, Sharda Singh, Neuza Ribeiro and Daniel Roque Gomes
Religions 2022, 13(7), 617; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070617 - 04 Jul 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3988
Abstract
One of the key issues of the learning experience is students’ performance during the course, as this is pointed to as one of the main indicators for boosting competences’ development and skills’ improvement. This study explores the roles of spirituality, forgiveness, and gratitude [...] Read more.
One of the key issues of the learning experience is students’ performance during the course, as this is pointed to as one of the main indicators for boosting competences’ development and skills’ improvement. This study explores the roles of spirituality, forgiveness, and gratitude on students’ academic performance, proposing a model of analysis revealing a first-order moderation effect of spirituality in the mediation effect of happiness, on the relation between gratitude and forgiveness with students’ academic performance. Two hundred twenty management students from various Indian universities voluntarily participated in the study. To avoid common method-bias issues, data concerning the study variables were obtained in two distinct moments. To test for the moderated-mediation model of analysis, we have followed the PROCESS analytical procedure. Results showed that forgiveness and gratitude were positively and significantly related to happiness and academic performance. It was also possible to see that spirituality moderates the relationship between forgiveness for self and student happiness. Finally, the moderated-mediating impact of spirituality and happiness on the relationship between gratitude and academic performance was also supported. The present study has taken the lead from positive psychology to assess the students’ character strengths related to their well-being and success. It proposes an innovative model of analysis, supported by theoretical reasoning, pointing to the existence of a moderated-mediation relation predicting students’ academic performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
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10 pages, 578 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Neuroticism, Spiritual Well-Being, and Subjective Well-Being in Korean University Students
by Jieun Yoo, Sukkyung You and June Lee
Religions 2022, 13(6), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060505 - 02 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2557
Abstract
Previous studies on mental health and quality of life have revealed that religiosity/spirituality was positively associated with indicators of well-being and personality factors. However, limited research has examined the relationship between spiritual well-being, the subfactors of the personality factor Neuroticism (i.e., anxiety, hostility, [...] Read more.
Previous studies on mental health and quality of life have revealed that religiosity/spirituality was positively associated with indicators of well-being and personality factors. However, limited research has examined the relationship between spiritual well-being, the subfactors of the personality factor Neuroticism (i.e., anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness, and vulnerability), and subjective well-being in a non-Western sample. The present findings revealed that the five subfactors of neuroticism did not have an equally negative or positive effect on spiritual and subjective well-being among Korean undergraduate University students. Regarding its subdimensions, vulnerability was strongly associated with spiritual well-being, while depression was closely linked to subjective well-being. Moreover, we found that spiritual well-being exerted significant effects on subjective well-being above personality factors. The significance of the findings and directions for further research have been discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
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13 pages, 270 KiB  
Article
Character Strengths Beatitudes: A Secular Application of Ancient Wisdom to Appreciate Strengths for Spiritual Happiness and Spiritual Growth
by Ryan M. Niemiec
Religions 2021, 12(11), 1000; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12111000 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2833
Abstract
A beatitude is a blessing. It is a form of appreciation that can be directed toward others or oneself. Theologically speaking, some frame the original beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew as pertaining to “spiritual happiness”, and [...] Read more.
A beatitude is a blessing. It is a form of appreciation that can be directed toward others or oneself. Theologically speaking, some frame the original beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew as pertaining to “spiritual happiness”, and recent scholars have offered a compelling argument that they are a call to flourishing. The focus here involves the creation and description of 24 blessings, or beatitudes, using the lens of one of the foundational and most researched areas in the sciences of flourishing, well-being, and positive psychology, which is the science of character strengths. Recent research has framed the 24 universal character strengths as spiritual strengths, hence particularly aligned for secular and nonsecular contexts of spiritual blessings. Each of the 24 character strengths was created into a blessing using the structure of the original beatitudes—with an opening description of the personal quality or attribute that is blessed and a follow-up outcome or core benefit that arises from the expression of that quality. In this way, these character strength beatitudes or character strength blessings offer an opportunity to appreciate the best positive qualities of others. These blessings are framed as primarily a mechanism of appreciating the character strengths of others, resting theoretically in both the grounding path and the sanctification path, the two types of integration of character strengths and spirituality that researchers have proposed. They are discussed, secondarily, as applied to the individual, for self-understanding, insight, and growth. These two purposes are relevant to the deepening of the spiritual journey, providing support as individuals pursue meaning in life and/or the sacred as they go deeper within themselves, up and beyond themselves, and sideways and interconnected to others. Practical applications, based in science, are discussed and point to avenues by which these character strengths beatitudes might both foster the appreciating of others’ strengths and support one’s own spiritual happiness, spiritual coping, and spiritual growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
15 pages, 285 KiB  
Article
Spirituality and Well-Being: Theory, Science, and the Nature Connection
by Carol D. Ryff
Religions 2021, 12(11), 914; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110914 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4738
Abstract
The links between spirituality and eudaimonic well-being are examined, beginning with a look at theoretical issues as to whether spirituality is best construed as part of well-being, or as a possible influence on well-being. A brief review of scientific findings from the MIDUS [...] Read more.
The links between spirituality and eudaimonic well-being are examined, beginning with a look at theoretical issues as to whether spirituality is best construed as part of well-being, or as a possible influence on well-being. A brief review of scientific findings from the MIDUS study linking religion and spirituality to well-being and other outcomes is then provided to show recent empirical work on these topics. Suggestions for future work are also provided. The third section is forward-thinking and addresses the power of nature to nurture spirituality and well-being, beginning with a look at how current research has linked nature to human flourishing. Issues of spirituality are rarely mentioned in this literature, despite evidence that nature has long been a source of inspiration in poetry, literature, art, and music. These works reveal that the natural world speaks to the human soul. To explore such ideas, parts of Jungian psychology are revisited: the soul’s longing for poetry, myth, and metaphor; the importance of animism, which sees nature as a field inhabited by spirit; and the devaluing of ancient cultures. The final section considers the wisdom of the indigenous peoples who saw spirit in everything. Their inputs, exemplified with “Two-Eyed Seeing”, offer new visions for thinking about the interplay of spirituality, well-being, and the natural world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
17 pages, 355 KiB  
Article
Links between Faith and Some Strengths of Character: Religious Commitment Manifestations as a Moderators
by Marcin Wnuk
Religions 2021, 12(9), 786; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090786 - 18 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2609
Abstract
Religious commitment is a significant factor for the development of strengths of character. Previous studies have confirmed that for religious people, it is not religious affiliation but religious orientation that has influenced positive outcomes. The purpose of the research was to verify whether [...] Read more.
Religious commitment is a significant factor for the development of strengths of character. Previous studies have confirmed that for religious people, it is not religious affiliation but religious orientation that has influenced positive outcomes. The purpose of the research was to verify whether religious commitment moderates the relationship between faith and strengths of character in a sample of religious students from Poland. A cross-sectional investigation of 393 Polish students was performed with using following measures: the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire (SCSORFQ), the Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations (TRIM) scale, the Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6), the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) test, the Herth Hope Index (HHI), the Brief Religious Coping Scale (Brief RCOPE), and two one-item tools measuring religious practices such as frequency of prayer and attendance at Mass. The obtained results confirmed the moderating role of prayer, mass attendance, and positive religious coping on faith and meaning in life as well as hope. Additionally, positive religious coping moderated the relationships between faith and gratitude as well as between faith and motivation to avoid transgressors. The research has proven that faith without religious commitment is not a strong enough factor to improve strengths of character, and being a believer but not practicing religion is not sufficient to lead a person to finding meaning in life, having enhanced hope, or being able to forgive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
10 pages, 247 KiB  
Article
Spiritual and Philosophical Practices: Together for Community Using the Counseling
by Vasile-Petru Hațegan
Religions 2021, 12(8), 603; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080603 - 04 Aug 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2296
Abstract
The paper presents characteristics of practices in the humanities that can be manifested through specific forms of counseling, namely spiritual or pastoral counseling and philosophical counseling. Through the comparative analysis of the two practices, interdisciplinary links are identified, reflected at the conceptual and [...] Read more.
The paper presents characteristics of practices in the humanities that can be manifested through specific forms of counseling, namely spiritual or pastoral counseling and philosophical counseling. Through the comparative analysis of the two practices, interdisciplinary links are identified, reflected at the conceptual and applied level, with both their similarities and differences being highlighted, in order to emphasize the originality and the capacity to adapt to the requirements of the field from which they come. The paper supports the new trend of involvement in communities of specific counseling practices by expanding their application potential from person to group and community, with the help of an adaptation process necessary to achieve the goal in order to bring the practice of counseling to as many persons and to community or society in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Positive Psychology)
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