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Wishing others well makes you well |

Health And Family

Wishing others well makes you well

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Wishing others well makes you well
Do you want to be happy? A recent feature in Medical News Today reveals that past research confirmed that being generous makes people happier. There is even a study that specified brain areas that generosity acts affect.

It’s easy to pick a fight or even start a fight in social media. It’s so easy also for tens, hundreds or even thousands of people to take sides, give unsolicited advice, judge, evaluate or scrutinize total strangers based on a post or a series of posts.

We see a lot of public rants, cyber bullying, emotional blackmail and heated exchange of hurtful words. Thankfully, we also read inspirational quotes and witness good deeds on our feeds.

Do you want to be happy? A recent feature in Medical News Today reveals that past research confirmed that being generous makes people happier. There is even a study that specified brain areas that generosity acts affect.

Being generous to others can help reduce anxiety and stress. That includes our generosity of sharing kind and uplifting words. And thinking of others in a kind and loving way could also make you happier.

The Journal of Happiness Studies posted a recent study, which investigated several strategies to lower anxiety and boost well-being. They found out that simply wishing a person well can improve our mood.

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

College students were asked to walk around the university and were tasked to try out one of the three strategies for 12 minutes.

With the loving-kindness strategy, they went around and focused on certain strangers wishing them happiness in thoughts. In the interconnectedness strategy, participants looked at people and wondered what hopes, aspirations, or feelings they might share. With the downward social comparison strategy, the students thought about how they might have a better life than the people they encountered.

A control group was also established in a group of students asked to look at people but simply focus on their physical appearance, clothing style and so on. Participants filled out surveys to gauge their anxiety, stress, empathy and happiness levels before and after the experiments.

Results? People who practiced loving-kindness had lower anxiety and overall higher levels of empathy and happiness. Wishing others well also improved the participants’ sense of care and connectedness. By contrast, the downward social comparison did not benefit tjeir mood at all and made the students feel less caring and empathetic.

“At its core, downward social comparison is a competitive strategy. That’s not to say it can’t have some benefit, but competitive mindsets have been linked to stress, anxiety and depression. On the other hand, walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” explained Prof. Gentile.

He added that “extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection. This simple practice is valuable regardless of your personality type.”

“It is almost impossible not to make comparisons on social media,” said Prof. Gentile. “Our study didn’t test this, but we often feel envy, jealousy, anger or disappointment in response to what we see on social media, and those emotions disrupt our sense of well-being.”

While many highlight the negative impact of social media on mental health and well-being, studies like these confirm that social networking sites could be used to spread happiness by wishing people well.

Another research team from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) led by James Fowler of the School of Medicine concluded that using social media may even spread happiness. They found that happy status updates encourage others to post happy status updates themselves.

“We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative. If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then we may be dramatically underestimating the effectiveness of efforts to improve mental and physical health,” Fowler added.

These researchers believe that this viral spread of happiness could trigger an “epidemic of well-being.”

Spread love and happiness, hope and optimism instead of dumping negative and toxic thoughts. Social media is such a powerful tool which we can use for positive change and emotional gain.

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