The conversations of life

Want to improve your mood in 12 minutes? Research says, just be nice!


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.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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