The Science of Happiness. Register Today
   
 

Meditating for a Better Tomorrow

By Linda George | December 1, 2008 | 1 comment

Usually we assume that a positive experience will boost our feelings of positive emotion. But a new study, led by University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, considers whether the reverse is true: Might feelings of positive emotion actually help bring about positive experiences in life?

In the study, published in November in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, participants were trained in “loving kindness” meditation, a form of meditation focused on both cultivating feelings of warmth and caring and extending those feelings toward oneself and others. After completing an initial survey that measured their social and mental well-being, the participants, all employees at a large technology company in Michigan, attended weekly meditation trainings and meditated at home at least five days each week, using guided meditations on a CD. Every day, they recorded the emotions they were experiencing throughout that day, as well as their “meditation, prayer, or solo spiritual activity.”

Photo by Al

Fredrickson and her colleagues found that over the nine weeks, participants reported an increase in the amount of positive emotions they experienced, including love, joy, and contentment. When the participants took another survey after the training ended, they appeared to be more satisfied with their lives and showed fewer depressive symptoms than before the meditation training began.

The researchers found that it took a few weeks for participants’ positive emotions to increase, and the increase each week was small. But as those positive emotions grew, the increases were associated with other personal improvements, such as greater feelings of self-acceptance, more positive relations with others, and improved physical health. In turn, the researchers found that those personal improvements enabled the meditation group to become more satisfied with their lives.

Fredrickson sees these results as evidence for what she has termed a “broaden and build” theory of positive emotions, whereby, over time, positive emotions help people broaden their outlook on life, build personal resources, and subsequently enhance their overall well-being.

“Just like exercise and eating nutritious foods can be considered an investment in your future well-being, paying attention to today’s emotions also shapes your future well-being,” she says. “It’s not just about feeling good in the moment. Feeling good actually sets us on healthy paths of growth. Knowing this might make us each value and cherish moments that spark positive emotions more than we typically do.”

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 
About The Author

Linda George is a graduate student in the department of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 

It takes some time to start to feel some diferences. But if we continue meditating we will see the results happen. Great post.

richard | 1:05 am, November 22, 2011 | Link

 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  • The Right Way to Get Angry

    October 20, 2014

    Anger is a tool that helps us read and respond to upsetting social situations. But how can you stop it from getting out of hand?

  • When Does Power Hurt Romance?

    October 2, 2014

    Four new studies reveal how having power affects your willingness to walk in your partner's shoes.

  • The Battle Between Success and Compassion

    October 17, 2014

    If adults want to raise caring kids, research suggests they might need to start by examining the mixed messages they’re sending to kids.

  

Greater Good Events

Self-Compassion & the Cultivation of Happiness with Kristin Neff
International House, UC Berkeley campus
November 7, 2014


Self-Compassion & the Cultivation of Happiness with Kristin Neff

This day-long seminar led by self-compassion pioneer Kristin Neff, will offer strategies for cultivating self-compassion, boosting happiness, and reducing stress in yourself and others.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

Whistling Vivaldi By Claude M. Steele Steele offers studies and stories that show how stereotypes can affect group members' lives in subtle but powerful ways, especially when it comes to academic performance.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.

Sponsors

The Quality of Life Foundation logo Special thanks to

The Quality of Life Foundation for its support of the Greater Good Science Center

 
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement