Put down the chocolate – a new study from Iowa State University showed that wishing people well is the easiest way to fast-track yourself to a better mood.
Researchers tested the benefits of three different techniques intended to reduce anxiety and increase happiness. They had college students walk around a building for 12 minutes practising one of each:
- Loving-kindness: Looking at people and wishing for them to be happy
- Interconnectedness: Looking at people they see and thinking about how they are connected to each other
- Downward social comparison: Looking at people they see and thinking about how they may be better off than the other people they saw
There was also a control group who were told to only consider external things – clothing colours and textures, or makeup or accessories.
The researchers compared each technique and found those who practiced ‘loving-kindness’ felt happier, more connected, caring and empathetic (and less anxious) when they were tested after the experiment compared to before.
The ‘interconnectedness’ group was also more empathetic and connected, while ‘downward social comparison’ showed no benefit at all. Guess it always pays to be kind.