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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spiritual Snapshot of Today's Youth

The majority of young people—93 percent—believe there is a spiritual dimension to life, according to a recently released report from the Search Institute's Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. They're most likely to understand this spiritual dimension as believing there is a purpose to life, believing in God, or being true to one's inner self. The report, "With Their Own Voices," is the result of a major international study that surveyed 7,000 youth ages 12 to 25 to get an in-depth look at how they think about and experience spirituality. (Click on image for larger view.)

About one-third of youth see themselves as "very" or "pretty" spiritual, the study found, though it varies widely from country to country (a high of 52 percent in the United States to a low of 23 percent in Australia), and many see spirituality as different from religion—though the majority view both positively. About 23 percent say they are spiritual but not religious, while 34 percent say they are both.

More than half—55 percent—said their spirituality had increased during the past two to three years, while 46 percent said so did their doubts and questions about spiritual and religious matters. Three-quarters of young people said being in nature, listening to music, and helping others in the community made it easier to find meaning, peace, and joy, while 44 percent said experiencing challenges in life made it hard to be spiritual. To nourish their spiritual development, young people say they commonly read books; pray or meditate alone; help others; or show love, compassion, and humility. —Heather Wax