MTV and the Associated Press recently surveyed the happiness of young people ages 13-24.   Guess what they found?   Young people who consider spirituality the most important thing in their lives are happier than those who don’t.  That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that only 44% consider themselves “spiritual,” and only 10% say that spirituality is the most important thing in their lives.  We’ve got our work cut out for us.  Here’s a summary of the survey results:

  1. General happiness — 65% of young people say they’re happy.  But, when ethnicity is considered, 72% of whites are happy, but only 56% of blacks and 51% of Hispanics.  I am sure that poverty and opportunity are factors here, but these statistics warrant further review.
  2. Parents, family, and relationships — Amazingly, parents are seen as an “overwhelmingly positive influence” in the lives of young people.  But, here’s an interesting reversal of #1 — 30% of blacks and Hispanics identify family as the thing that brings them the most happiness, contrasted to only 15% of whites!   
  3. Religion and spirituality — 44% say that religion and spirituality are either “a very important or the single most important” thing in their lives.  80% of those who say that spirituality is the most important are happy with life in general; in contrast 60% who say spirituality is not important at all are happy with life in general. 
  4. Fortune and fame — Almost no respondents said money was the source of their happiness, but many cited financial problems as a source of unhappiness.  70% want to be rich, but just 29% want to be famous. 
  5. Technology — 50% say the internet alone makes them feel happier, and 50% say they never turn off their cell phones. 

Obviously, the implications for church and youth ministry are trememdous here.  You can read more about the survey at research.mtv.com or surveys.ap.org