|Kindness. From On the Fence with Jesus.|
The researchers first evaluated participants' levels of depression, happiness, and self-esteem, then evaluated them again four more times over the six-month period. Lead author Myriam Mongrain says, "What’s amazing is that the time investment required for these changes to occur is so small. We’re talking about mere minutes a day."
Mongrain theorizes that compassion boosts our mood because it gives us meaning and self esteem. "If you make a conscious decision to not be so hard on others," she says, "it becomes easier to not be so hard on yourself. Furthermore, providing support to others often means that we will get support back. That is why caring for and helping others may be the best possible thing we can do for ourselves. On a less selfish level, there is something intrinsically satisfying about helping others and witnessing their gratitude."
You can read the actual study in a forthcoming issue of The Journal of Happiness Studies. Read more about this general topic in my blog post here.