According to the 2012 paper published by the Queen’s University researchers who conducted the study, religion replenishes self-control and increases our ability to endure discomfort, delay gratification, exert patience and refrain from responding impulsively.
As a CrossFit coach and personal trainer, I am well acquainted with myriad forms of “discomfort”:
- Discomfort during 5K runs and rowing sprints that test the mind’s willpower far more than the body’s ability.
- Discomfort during heavy sets of back squats that pull us out of our comfort zone with every all-out rep.
- Discomfort during workout sessions in which your sole objective is to face an exercise foe—that is, a skill that needs improvement, such as overhead squats, double-unders, handstand push-ups or kipping pull-ups.
- Discomfort during deep stretches and intense foam-rolling sessions that, ironically, are encouraged because they in fact soothe tired muscles and relievejoint pain.
The psychologists asked participants (college students) to complete a scrambled-sentence task in which they were to unscramble the sentence and remove the excess word. For those in the neutral priming group, the excessive word didn’t bear any religious connotations. In the religious priming group, however, the excessive words did contain religious themes and undertones, like divine and spirit.