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Book: Spirituality and Wellbeing

Chapter: 6. Narratives of Spirituality and Wellbeing: Cultural Differences and Similarities between Brazil and the UK

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35876


Wellbeing, happiness and life satisfaction are perceived depending on a range of factors, from income, social position, gender, age and cultural context. Some even argue with the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus that material possession is the least important aspect for a sense of happiness. This understanding led to the perceived paradox of happy but poor peasants and miserable millionaires. However, research shows that a more traditional feeling of contentment among rural people has been replaced by a feeling of dissatisfaction with their place in the contemporary globalised economic system. Is there therefore a trend to perceive wellbeing in similar terms despite cultural differences? This chapter looks at narratives of wellbeing that derived from a study of spirituality and wellbeing in Brazil and the UK. Brazil is usually portrayed with the greater acceptance of alternative spirituality and healing that should support a more holistic understanding of wellbeing. While the study has shown little evidence for the acceptance of spirituality within the medical context in Brazil, it has also shown a greater awareness of the importance of spirituality for wellbeing. Comparing subjective definitions of wellbeing from Brazilian and British spiritualists and other people involved in mediumistic religions, this paper highlights the cultural framework of these narratives and discusses similarities and differences.

Chapter Contributors

  • Bettina Schmidt ( - bettinaschmidt) 'University of Wales Trinity St David'