What do most of us do when we’ve had a bad day? Dive head first into a bag of potato chips? Whine to our roommates?
Before you throw on your sweats and pour yourself a glass of wine, consider this enlightening study recently published by Iowa State University researchers in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
Their findings suggest the best way to improve your mood is to wish other people well.
“Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection," Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology, told Science Daily. "It's a simple strategy that doesn't take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities."
The researchers asked college students to test out three different strategies for improving mood—
Loving-kindness: Looking at the people they see and thinking to themselves, "I wish for this person to be happy."
Interconnectedness: Looking at the people they see and thinking about how they are connected to each other.
And finally, downward social comparison: Looking at the people they see and thinking about how they may be better off than each of the people they encountered.
Overall, the winner for the best mood-booster was loving-kindness.
"This simple practice is valuable regardless of your personality type," researcher Lanmiao told Science Daily. "Extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection."
So the next time your boss pisses you off, try a little kindness.