According to CBC News, sociologists claim that counties with a poor socioeconomic status tend to have the highest rates of organized religion.
The Religion vs. Atheism Index (2009 study) also indicated that low-income groups are 17 percent more religious than top income groups.
First-world countries are more developed. There, opportunities and resources are accessible with enough hard work and dedication. Fate can be controlled through rational decision making.
So, an affluent person — even if he or she isn't filthy rich — wouldn't think prayers or services are any better than just doing things themselves.
But, if you take a person who lives in a third-world country, where corruption, poverty, hunger and hardship are rampant, no matter what he or she chooses to do in his or her life, the end result is still the same.
These people don’t have the luxury to develop their careers, to advance their education or to gain material wealth. They live day-to-day, just trying to live.
So, even as they scavenge for food, water and medical care, religion gives them hope. They believe in a place that is better than their indescribable living conditions.
I've personally seen squatter homes in the Philippines, and I've read about the deathly illnesses that kill West Africans and the political unrest in parts of the Middle East.
Everyone has different stories and different battles, and people have different reasons for why they are religious.
And as a well-off person living in an affluent community, I could easily dismiss the notion of spirituality. However, I do see the difference it makes in people’s lives.
1. Peace of Mind
Meditation, or any spiritual activity, has been proven to be beneficial to many individuals who stress about day-to-day things. Today, many of life's challenges include just managing the time to work, go to school, raise a family, etc.
Even the little things pile up and interfere with your ability to function, like working an eight-hour shift, doing laundry or shopping for groceries, all within a 16-hour time window.
Ideally, we get a good eight hours of sleep (though many of us rarely accomplish this).
A crazy schedule like this can leave us mentally and emotionally exhausted, especially when 95 percent of us likely don't have life's complexities figured out.
On a lighter note, there's just something about being able to channel all the sadness, anger, frustration and worry into something more powerful.
There's a sort of relief involved in letting go of all the negativity into the hands of someone or something that has the ability to make it right.
This is why praying can bring people peace of mind, which leaves them genuinely happier.
I find that religious individuals are often more humble. Spirituality provides the notion that whatever skills and knowledge a person possess didn't come from just him or herself.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not discrediting the hard work and dedication that people find in themselves to succeed.
I just find that piety fosters a selfless mind. I find this to be a very valuable quality to have, especially in a place that prides itself on, well, pride.
And, though it's crucial to take pride in what you do, too much of it can cloud judgment, turn confidence into arrogance and talented leaders into substantial jerks. People admire and respect humility.
Those who don't focus too much on themselves naturally attract the right attention.
3. More Thankful
With humility comes thankfulness. While some may argue that you don't need to be religious to be thankful, I feel that religious services give us that push to be a little more grateful for things we take for granted.
Like I mentioned before, life can deal us crappy cards or throw us the worst situations and sometimes, we forget that we have it better than many people in this world do.
Religion reminds people to reflect on the positive things that happen in our lives. While it's good to always progress and strive for better things, appreciating the things we have instead of worrying about the things we don't have gives us a healthier outlook on life.
4. Less Lonely
Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, like having many groups of friends or just a few BFFs, no one likes feeling lonely.
For some, religion fills in an empty gap for people who feel like they have no one to turn to. Others are fortunate to have certain people in their lives who are open and always there.
And, for those who are left without the comfort of any support system, it's rational for them to turn to spirituality.
Even though those people aren't physically talking to a person, the feeling that you're being listened to helps a lot when going through something difficult.
5. Morals and Values
I believe that religion shapes morals and values. Now, I won't lecture about what's right and wrong because that would be a never-ending discussion.
But, I will argue that religious doctrines provide a framework of what's important.
Having a sense of morality makes someone more respectable. Despite the fact that values and morals can largely differ from one person to the next, valuing something makes a person more meaningful.
6. Life of Purpose
Living in the world today can be exhausting. With so many things going on and so many things to worry about, people get lost in the purpose of it all.
What’s the point of being the richest person in the world if it could be taken away in an instant? Spiritual people work hard to gain something more than material wealth.
Whether it's love, happiness or success, religion provides a gateway to these abstract goals in life.
And, while a person can argue that an individual can be self-reliant when obtaining these things, this higher being is the main motivator that can keep that person going.
Whether you believe in a God or not, living life for something greater than yourself provides a person with a greater purpose.