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Strong spiritual engagement and subjective well-being : a naturalistic investigation of the Thaipusam festival
journal contributionposted on 2012-08-01, 00:00 authored by David MellorDavid Mellor, F Hapidzal, K Teh, R Ganesan, J Yeow, R Abdul Latif, Robert CumminsRobert Cummins
The existence of a positive relationship between spiritual engagement and well-being is currently based on weak correlational evidence, generally in Western contexts. This study advances understanding through a naturalist, longitudinal study of 226 people, including Malays, Chinese, and Indians, experiencing the Hindu Thaipusam festival in Malaysia. We measured the subjective well-being of people with varying levels of engagement—from nonobservance or simply observing the festival to extreme engagement. Each person was assessed 3 months before, 2 weeks before, 2 weeks after, and 4 months after the festival. We found that the subjective well-being of those with the most extreme level of engagement was permanently higher than other groups. The well-being of those with a strong, but less extreme engagement rose at the time of the festival and remained elevated. The findings are discussed in relation to homeostatic theory of well-being and the potential benefits of spiritual engagement.