A study by Pew Research in 2015 showed that millennials are less religious than the older generations but just as spiritual.
Millennials have been leaving their religion through the years and have started embracing spirituality. This is because spirituality brings them closer to their self-identity and life purpose.
In today’s fast-paced world, spirituality is one of millennials’ refuge against negative external factors, and here’s why.
What is Spirituality, and Why Does it Appeal to Millennials?
According to Louise Delagran, spirituality is a wide concept with room for many perspectives. Generally, it includes connecting to something bigger than yourself and searching for meaning in life.
We can have different definitions of spirituality. Some may describe it as transcendent or sacred. For some, spirituality is a deep sense of connectedness and aliveness.
With today’s pressured society, It is no surprise that millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) turn to spirituality to be grounded and stay connected to themselves.
Millennials face various prevalent struggles that threaten their Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z survey states that the top stress drivers prevalent are:
- Family welfare
- Financial future
- Job prospects and security
- Physical and mental health
- Social and political climate
With this, spirituality becomes one of the pillars millennials lean on for support, as it does not impose beliefs or practices on them.
Spirituality is all about individual uniqueness and expression. It is not forcing; instead, it emphasizes the importance of freedom in the spiritual path.
What are the Factors that Lead Millennials to Spirituality?
Different factors lead millennials to turn to spirituality. Some of them are personal, while others are based on the condition of society. Some are good reasons, while others are just results of societal influences.
Political Entanglement of Religion.
According to Professor Matthew Hedstrom, in his interview with Caroline Newman, issues relating to the political entanglement of religion have something to do with millennials leaving their religions.
Other issues millennials face with organized religions are their strict traditions and principles that suffocate and restrain them.
Some state that some religions are becoming dogmatic, which does not align with their open perception of the world.
There are religious traditions that indirectly and directly promote the oppression of women, discrimination of genders, and persecution of minorities.
However, as Professor Hedstrom added, millennials leaving their religion doesn’t mean they do not believe in God.
“Some do not have religions but still believe in God, praying, and other aspects found in religion.” Or what others usually say, Spiritual but not religious.
From this, it can be concluded that it’s not the religions that millennials leave; it’s the dogmatic people, the system, their perception, and principles— that make them turn to spirituality.
Professor Hedstrom explained that the plethora of choices available for millennials resulted in analysis paralysis or the inability to make decisions because of anxiety brought upon by a problem.
Too many options give millennials anxiety about which religious beliefs to choose, and spirituality saves them from the dilemma.
This is because, instead of sticking to one religious belief, spirituality allows them to incorporate various religious beliefs based on their preferences.
According to Professor Hedstrom, consumer capitalism has something to do with how millennials choose spirituality.
The millennial approach to spirituality is similar to choosing and consuming various religious products rather than identifying themselves with organized religion.
Millennials are known for their independence, curiosity, and adaptability to change. They want something that makes them grow personally and helps them reach their fullest potential.
Spirituality meets these criteria. It gives them the freedom to lead and understand a happy life. Though it cannot change reality, it makes millennials resilient to life’s challenges and more accepting of life’s blessings.
Spirituality is also a great way to cope with stress and other external negative factors that might rob them of their light.
According to Elizabeth Scott, spirituality has the following characteristics that can appeal to the characteristics of millennials:
- Millennials can practice spirituality individually.
- They do not have to adhere strongly to a specific set of standards.
- Spirituality often involves personal journeys of discovery and knowing the meaning of a meaningful life.
To summarize, the factors influencing millennials to choose spirituality are the political entanglement of religions, analysis paralysis, consumer capitalism, and personal reasons.
Elizabeth Scott warned us to be careful and mindful when walking the spiritual path, as it can lead to spiritual bypassing. Spiritual bypassing is a tendency to avoid problems, conflicts, and emotions.
For instance, you have hurt someone’s feelings. Instead of apologizing to them correctly and truly addressing their feelings, you opt to say, “There’s a reason for everything.’ or ‘Your actions mirror the world.’
The wrong approach to spirituality can cause the people around us harm, so always remember to use it for the greater good.
What is the Impact of Spirituality on Millennials?
There are different ways a person can find spirituality. For some, seeking spirituality involves different spiritual and religious practices. They may often participate in mindful meditations and pilgrimages to sacred places.
On the other hand, some lead a spiritual life by extending their help to others, protecting the environment and animals, or simply doing the things that complete them.
There’s no one-way path that spirituality can impact a person’s life, but here are some:
Spirituality equates to longevity.
A study by Mayo Clinic found that spiritual and religious people live longer than others.
They tend to make healthier choices and are less likely to indulge in excessive drinking, smoking, and violent activities, which benefit the mind and the body.
They create a peaceful atmosphere, giving birth to positivity. All of these ultimately help boost their immune system and physical health.
Spirituality Improves Relationships.
Spirituality also brings people together through spiritual journeys. It also allows people to maintain fulfilled and healthier relationships because they are encouraged to become more compassionate and treasure every relationship they have.
Forming deeper connections provides a sense of acceptance and belonging to an individual, which is beneficial to building self-esteem.
Spirituality improves their mental health.
Goncalves et al. found in their study that religion and spirituality are beneficial for people when it comes to coping with daily stress.
They have determined that spiritual experience greatly helped older adults cope with negative feelings and cultivate positive ones by supporting them during tough life situations.
Spirituality makes them feel whole.
For millennials, spirituality connects them to others and the world as a whole. It helps them look inward and seek to understand their inner life, which can help them become wiser when dealing with the external world by being less reactive and more authentic.
According to Sage Life, spirituality has been attributed to better well-being. It helps people see that there is more to life than they usually see and experience.
Through spirituality, millennials become more accepting of life’s possibilities. They develop an authentic view of life and not just toxic positivity.
Spirituality also helps them become more open and accepting of people’s differences and society’s circumstances.
Faith is always at the heart of everything we do. Having something to hold and lean on is a great way to possess resilience during trying times. Aside from religion, millennials go to spirituality to seek comfort and relief and find answers.
Spirituality enriches lives and provides a wide range of benefits. At the same time, it’s important to be careful about your spiritual adventure and ensure not to turn it into a dogmatic principle.
Remember, spirituality is all about individual uniqueness and expression. It is not forcing; instead, it emphasizes the importance of freedom in the spiritual path.
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