People who have a good understanding of the idea of "oneness" are happier and more satisfied with their lives, a new study says.
A researcher from the University of Mannheim surveyed nearly 75,000 Germans about how satisfied they were about their lives in general.
Oneness is defined as a belief that all aspects of life are somehow connected and interdependent on one another.
The Idea Of Oneness
The results of the study were consistent regardless of what religious traditions the participants followed.
A majority people asked believed either in Buddhism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, or Protestantism. Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents said they were atheists.
Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, a professor of corporate social responsibility at Mannheim and author of the study, explained how the idea of oneness seemed to be present across different belief systems.
"The feeling of being at one with a divine principle, life, the world, other people or even activities has been discussed in various religious traditions but also in a wide variety of scientific research from different disciplines," Edinger-Schons explained.
"The results of this study reveal a significant positive effect of oneness beliefs on life satisfaction, even controlling for religious beliefs."
Individuals tended to uphold their oneness beliefs over time. Instead of adapting to certain situations in life, many of these beliefs remain stable throughout the course of people's lives. Edinger-Schons said they represent a general attitude to the world.
Higher life satisfaction scores have been tied to several benefits. This could be in the form of better health for older people, or better grades in school for younger people.
Oneness scores were varied based on the religion of the respondents. However, these scores served as better predictors of people's satisfaction in life than their religious beliefs.
Edinger-Schons said she was not surprised that the atheists had the lowest oneness levels. What actually caught her by surprise even more was that oneness beliefs were vastly different for every religious tradition. Muslim respondents had the highest levels out of the entire group.
When Edinger-Schons took oneness beliefs into account, she discovered that many of the so-called positive effects of religious traditions on one's life satisfaction disappeared.
Studies On Oneness
Oneness has been one of the foundations of cultural beliefs around the world. The idea has appeared in religious, spiritual, philosophical, and scientific traditions.
Erwin Schrodinger, an Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize winner, even claimed that quantum physics is somehow compatible with the belief that there is a basic oneness of the universe.
Despite the popularity of oneness beliefs, there is no way of measuring the idea in terms of human psychology.
People's oneness levels are often determined using a questionnaire that measures other aspects of their spirituality, such as sense of sacredness, purpose, meaning, and whether they have a relationship with God. However, this becomes problematic when oneness is secularized for the sake of scientific research.
To answer this, Duke University researchers developed a "Belief in Oneness Scale" that is designed to measure a person's oneness levels.
Individuals who get high scores on the questionnaire are more likely to have a better grasp of their oneness with other aspects such as life, nature, humanity in general, and even their place in the universe.
The findings of the University of Mannheim study are featured in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.