Wishing others well may boost your own well-being

Many people say that helping others through acts of charity or volunteer work makes them feel better and happier. New research goes further and finds that simply wishing someone well may have a similarly positive effect on our moods.
woman smiling drinking a cup of coffee
Simply thinking of others in a kind and loving way could make you happier, suggests a new study.
Whether it is escaping the city, going for a walk, or hanging out with our friends, we all have our strategies for reducing anxiety, coping with the stresses of modern life, or just lifting our mood.

But what role does helping others play in our well-being? Past research has confirmed that being generous makes people happier. Some studies have even pointed to specific brain areas that acts of generosity affect, suggesting that giving to others can help reduce anxiety and stress.

New research, appearing in the Journal of Happiness Studies, investigates deeper into several strategies for lowering anxiety and boosting well-being and finds that merely wishing a person well may do wonders for our mood.

Researchers Douglas A. Gentile, Dawn M. Sweet, and Lanmiao He compared the mood-boosting potential of three such strategies: loving-kindness, interconnectedness, and downward social comparison.

Douglas Gentile is a professor of psychology at Iowa State University in Ames.

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