Happiness through religious and non-religious means
Whenever people feel guilt or sadness about something or something that has caused this emotion; they only feel better when they come to some sort of "epiphany" or "realization" about their truth and their life which lets them let go of that emotion and be happy again. We can even compare this --realization event-- to the obelisk monument appearance in '2001 space Odyssey'. The obelisk represents a leap in knowledge, but also shows a leap that occurred for reasons unknown.
Here is the movie scene I am referring to:
Of course this clip is up for interpretation and this is just my view.
Although the following analogy with religion, in particular Jesus of the bible, doesn't necessarily represent exactly the purpose of the obelisk in '2001: a space odyssey', I feel like they share similar symbolist characteristics and purposes.
Continuing with my thought on my first sentence: sadness/depression or any of the 'sad' emotions are caused by some event, be it the death of a family member, rejection, insecurity, humility, et cetera. We realize that the person experiencing these emotions needs a pathway to happiness or a pathway back to their "normal" state- normal being whatever they interpret as happiness for them. They may reach this by self-forgiveness or self-acceptance of their predicament or maybe by a third party friend/family member etc. We can metaphorically call this the obelisk transition as they are looking for a sudden-- perhaps not intently looking and some third party does it for them-- pathway back to their normal state.
Now, this is where religion shows up. The obelisk can now be replaced with Jesus; forgiver of all sins—sins can now be the replacement for the "reasons" the original person encountered their sad/depressed et cetera state. The bible will say that we are sinners and therefore imperfect, but Jesus forgives all, no matter the sin. The end result is the person is now able to reach self-forgiveness because the Jesus or the bible has said he has forgiven them. Jesus is replacing the third-party in the previous scenario and acting as the parent/friend et cetera person-- as well as the obelisk or unknown "gateway"-- who helped them reach that state of happiness.
Whether Jesus is real in this case is irrelevant. The method in which the person reaches happiness or their original state-of the two I have mentioned-- seems irrelevant as well.
The important thing for the person is the realization and act of self-forgiveness; whether through self-actualization or a third party--tombstone element-- who helped them realize this state. Religion plays the role of the tombstone and or third party and this is a reason it works and helps a lot of people.
However, the person is now reliant upon that third party Jesus and could potentially relapse if anything should change their beliefs.