Spirituality & Happiness Are In Vogue!

Spiritual But Not Religious!


Beginning around the end of the 20th century, there were signs of a growing trend into the scientific study of religion and spirituality and how these practices impacted mental health, happiness and well-being1. What now appears to be accepted science, is that both religion and spirituality contribute to one’s self-reported levels of subjective well-being2 and overall health3. Along with this growing trend of investigations into the science and psychology behind the role of religion and spirituality on well-being, one study1 discovered an imbalance between the numbers of articles published around spirituality compared to the number of articles published on religion. What these researchers found was that between the years 1965 and 2000, although there had been a dramatic increase in the overall number of studies looking into religion, spirituality and health “the resurgence of interest is almost entirely attributable to the attention devoted to the construct of spirituality” (p. 211), as can be seen in Figure 1.

Johnny Stork - Spirituality vs Religion
Figure 1

Alef Trust - SpiritualityThis growing trend in the number of articles published around spirituality and health up to the year 2000 has not only continued well into the 21st century2, but a more recent Pew Research poll also found that fewer people were identifying themselves as “religious”, but with a corresponding increase in people who identified as “spiritual but not religious”4. One has to look no further than the “bible” of mental disorders – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – for confirmation of the important role that spirituality and religion are thought to play in mental health. In 1994 the DSV-IV included a new section for “religious or spiritual problems” (DSM). Even the business world has enthusiastically embraced the important role of spirituality as a tool to foster employee health. Employees and managers alike are seeking out “meaning, personal and professional growth, and even spiritual growth” in their corporate environments5.

“We are witnessing a spiritual awakening unprecedented in modern times, according to scholars in American religious thought.”15.

And when it comes to the practices typically associated with mental-health, the trend seems ubiquitous and almost universal. Whether it’s medicine6, psychiatry7,8, psychotherapy9, counselling10 or life coaching11,12,13, the concept and practices of spirituality are increasingly being recognized as important, if not necessary, aspects of mental health and well-being. The message here seems clear. In spite of the uneasy, sometimes even competitive relationship between religion/spirituality and psychotherapy during the last century – both vying for a means to explain or heal the soul/psyche – the important role of religion/spirituality in mental health and well-being now appears to be accepted wisdom. Thereby establishing the field of transpersonal psychology at the very forefront of this new post-materialist integration of science, psychology and spirituality14.

With the growing interest in SPIRITUALITY, the time could not be better, more AUSPICIOUS, than RIGHT NOW, to pursue an education in TRANSPERSONAL PRINCIPLES, or a career in TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY.

Happiness & Well-Being


Happiness and well-being research has been going on since around the early 60’s when the humanistic and positive psychology movements helped to shift a focus from merely treating pathology and reducing symptoms of mental-illness, towards fostering the more positive aspects of happiness, well-being and flourishing. Concurrent with the trends investigating the role of spirituality on health and wellness and the increase in the numbers of people who identify as “spiritual but not religious”4, the science and psychology behind the concept of “well-being” has also increased steadily over the past few decades16,17. As of 2017, the World Happiness Database – which tracks happiness/well-being research – indicated over 12000 articles to date and the exponential rise in in publications continues to this day as can be seen in figure 2 below.

Johnny Stork - Happiness Publications
Figure 2

Well-Being and Public Policy


Along with the growing interest around the science behind and interest in, spirituality, happiness and well-being as they relate to mental-health, there also appears to be evidence of a growing political trend towards the implementation of “happiness” or “well-being” factors in setting public policy. In 2008 the small country of Bhutan implemented an economic and social policy index which they titled “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) – as opposed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GNH index would take into account the overall wellbeing of its citizens when assessing the country’s welfare. The implementation of the GNH in Bhutan implied that sustainable development is best defined by a more holistic approach where equal importance is given to the happiness and well-being of its citizens as a measure of progress, along with the economic and material-good’s scale of the GDP.

More recently, New Zealand announced that it was moving away from traditional bottom-line factors like economic growth and productivity as measures of the country’s overall health. Instead, New Zealand will place a heavy emphasis on community, cultural connection and equity factors through increased spending on mental-health supports, addressing domestic violence, child poverty and homelessness18. Apparently in a bid to not to be outdone by New Zealand, the former head of civil services and spending in the UK also announced that “personal wellbeing rather than economic growth should be the primary aim of government spending”19.

These announcements from multiple countries have demonstrated that well-being and happiness are increasingly being recognized as important, even critical factors in establishing public policy and determining the overall health of a country and its citizens20. It would appear that happiness and well-being are becoming the new GDP21. Once again, establishing the significant role for transpersonal psychology and the application of transpersonal principles, in an ever-widening scope of mental-health, wellness and even political arenas.

Taken as a whole, the steady growth of interest into the science of spirituality, well-being and happiness, along with the increasing number of people who identify as “spiritual but not religious”4, the expanding interest into bridging the science and spirituality divide14 and now the spread of well-being factors to public policy, the demand for and value of, a transpersonal education would appear to be poised for significant growth.

With the growing interest into HAPPINESS and WELL-BEING, the time could not be better, more AUSPICIOUS, than RIGHT NOW, to pursue an education in TRANSPERSONAL PRINCIPLES, or a career in TRANSPERSONAL PSYCHOLOGY.



Blah blah blah


1: Weaver, A. J., Pargament, K. I., Flannelly, K. J., & Oppenheimer, J. E. (2006). Trends in the Scientific Study of Religion, Spirituality, and Health: 1965–2000. Journal of Religion and Health, 45(2), 208–214.

2: Lun, V. M.-C., & Bond, M. H. (2013). Examining the relation of religion and spirituality to subjective well-being across national cultures. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5(4), 304–315.

3 (Fehring, R.J., Miller, J.F. & Shaw, C. (1997). Spiritual well-being, religiosity, hope, depression, and other mood states in elderly people coping with cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum. 24(4). 663-71.

4: Lipka, M & Cecewicz, C. (2017). More Americans now say they’re spiritual but not religious. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/

5: Tischler, L. (1999).The growing interest in spirituality in business: A long-term socio-economic explanation. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 12(4). 273-280.

6: (Roberti, 2007)

7: (Baetz, Griffin, Bowen & Marcoux, 2004;

8: Tadmor, 2019)

9: (Post, 2009)

10:(Plumb, 2011)

11:(Williams, 2012,

12: Stork, 2018,

13: Dangeli, n.d)

14: (Taylor, 2018)

15: (Taylor, 1994)

16: (Diener, Suh, Lucas & Smith, 1999)

17: (Cloninger, 2008)

18: (Young-Powell, 2019)

19: (Partington, 2019)

20: (Alkire, 2013)

21: (Stratton, 2010)

A Jolly Mystic Dude with a background (or interests) in psychology, consciousness, well-being, spirituality, psychedelics, philosophy, sexuality, contemplative practices and technology. In a few past lives or careers I have been a youth-care worker and program developer; statistician; research analyst; database developer; web developer; WordPress developer; Linux administrator and open-source consultant; network/website security administrator; social-media and marketing analyst; male waiter on Ladies Nights and a pourer of molten steel.I currently hang out in Gibson’s BC pursuing interests in, and writing about, transpersonal psychology, spirituality, psychedelics, plant wellness, technology and well-being. I am a strong advocate for the therapeutic use of psychedelics and cannabis in treating many emotional and psychological conditions as well as for the fostering of well-being and supporting spiritual practice. I also have a passionate interest in the role of technologies like social-media to be used constructively for sharing information, knowledge, building communities and fostering well-being. When I am not reading, studying, writing, blogging, listening to music or contemplating my navel, I like to ride my motorcycle, take photos, go hiking, 4x4ing, meditate on the beach, camping, kayaking or anything else outdoors. I also like challenging social, sexual, gender and intellectual stereotypes as well exploring the furthest reaches of human consciousness.

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