Spirituality is essential for human happiness and mental health

Dr. David N. Elkins, in an article in Psychology Today, entitled “Spirituality: It’s What’s Missing in Mental Health,” shares his own faith journey. “During my first therapy session years ago, the therapist listened to me as no one had ever listened before. I told my story, the one I had rehearsed, but he heard the truth. Near the end of the session, he said gently, ‘You are spiritually hungry.’ I began to cry. Me, a grown 31-year-old man, deep inside, knew he was right.

“For the next two years, I was taught how to care for and feed my soul. The psychologist gave me the skills I needed to build a life of passion and depth. Today, as a clinical psychologist and university professor, I share this wisdom with clients and students because I believe that spirituality is essential to human happiness and mental health.

“Indeed, new evidence shows that religious and spiritual interventions can help when everything else has failed.” In essence what he is saying is that only by being plugged into the divine energy can we truly be happy.

St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “We will be the happiest people in the world if we belong to God, if we place ourselves at God’s disposal, if we let God use us as he pleases. To be this happy, we must belong to Jesus fully without reservation. He alone is worthy of our love and total surrender. Once we really belong to the Lord, then God is free to use us, to do with us whatever he pleases.”

We can easily become addicted to many things in life. We can believe that something like the latest cell phone will make us happy. What often happens, we become slaves to our new phones and after a while, they control us instead of our using them approximately. When we have to answer our messages and phone calls immediately, then we are no longer free.

This is true of so many things in life. Alcohol is the No. 1 addiction in the U.S. An estimated 30 percent of Americans have suffered from an alcohol abuse in the past. That’s close to 100 million people. In 2010, nearly 18 million Americans were addicted to alcohol.

Because in our culture, alcohol is legal and consumed at almost every social gathering, alcohol addiction is complicated. If a person turns to alcohol as an answer to life’s problems or to feel good in the midst of a hectic world, that person has put alcohol in God’s place. We have all seen unnecessary deaths from abuse of alcohol. It effects the brain’s reward system causing intense craving in heavy drinkers.

We can be addicted to many types of drugs. For example, cocaine is still one of the worst addictions in America. Cocaine is one of the hardest addictions to quit. While it may not be as popular as it was in the 1980’s, around 1.5 million people continue to suffer from cocaine addiction in the US. Because cocaine boosts positive mood and energy, people using it can easily become addicted to its effects. When taken socially, it can make kicking the habit even harder.

Besides drugs and alcohol, many other types of addiction exist: gambling, hand washing, the internet, pornography, the need to be needed, money, overeating, codependent relationships, using religion as an escape from the real world, self harmful behaviors, sex, shopping, spending money to feel good, stealing, watching too much television, video games and overworking.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430), in his “Confessions,” realized all the addictions he was seeking never satisfied him. He finally found God and said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” May we can find that same happiness.


About Wilmer Todd 125 Articles
Father Wilmer Todd is author and lives in Bourg. Until his retirement, he lived in Thibodaux.

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