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Group of young people with arms around each other

In interviews and focus group conversations, people commonly drew or described a sense of connection—with themselves, with a higher power or divine being, with others living or dead, or with nature—as a fundamental part of a spiritual life. 

The survey found that not only do many feel connected to a higher power, all of humanity, and the natural environment, but those who feel highly connected to either a higher power or humanity are more likely to take community, civic, and political action. 

68% of people report feeling connected to a higher power of some kind. 

Survey respondents were also likely to describe it as a strong connection. In conversation, many people described their connection with a higher power as a relationship—and one they cultivated through regular spiritual practices and actions. 

60% of people report feeling connected to all of humanity. 

In focus groups and interviews, people offered a multitude of examples in which spirituality emerged through a sense of kinship with other people. Some shared about relationships with family members, others about relationships with friends or strangers they interacted with, and still others about a sense of connection with a global family. 

71% of people report feeling connected to the natural environment. 

Study participants offered specific examples of being in and feeling one with nature. Others described seeing themselves as part of an expansive, living world or universe. 

People who feel the highest sense of connection to a higher power or to humanity at large are more likely to take community, civic, and political action. 

In particular, people who feel highly connected to all of humanity, compared even to those who feel moderately connected, are more likely to engage in community and civic behaviors, such as volunteering and participating in community events, and political behaviors, such as voting and supporting political campaigns. 

The United States is not isolated from any other country on the planet. We are all one. One big family. And depending on how you think about the nature of a ‘God,’ you might say the size of it on planet Earth is all the cells of all the different beings on the planet. How do we plug in to be of service?” 

Dennis, 71 

Very spiritual / Not religious at all (Protestant) 

Voting. It feels like such a community, I mean for me that’s like church. I mean what some people … must get from church.” 

Sara, 52 

Not spiritual at all / Not religious at all