A walking strategy that will secretly make you a happier person
You would be hard pressed to find an easier way to improve your health and extend your life than adding a few steps to your days. Walking more does everything from strengthening your heart to helping you lose weight and even improving your mood. In the case of the latter, a notable study published the scientific journal Emotion found that going for a walk can improve your mood and increase your energy levels, even if you are waiting feel worse afterwards.
But if you are looking to really improve your mood and to see the world in a much more positive light, walking can also help. You just need to employ a specific mental technique designed by researchers of Iowa State University and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. Read on to discover the secret trick that can help you blaze a trail to a happier existence. And if you’re someone who loves to walk, make sure you know the secret cult walking shoe that is obsessing walkers everywhere.
For the study, the researchers asked students to use one of four mental techniques while walking in a building for 12 minutes:
The technique of “benevolence”: these students were instructed to think only of positive, well-meaning thoughts about the people they noticed while walking. While sincerity cannot be guaranteed, the study authors encouraged participants to truly believe what they think. For example, “I wish this person was happy.”
The Interconnection Technique: This group was asked to look at others and think about how we are all connected, and imagine that they have similar hopes, dreams, fears, and interests.
The top-down social comparison technique: this part of the participants was asked to look down on others and consider how they are doing better than everyone else.
And the control group: Finally, this group served as a point of comparison for the other groups. These students were asked to focus only on the physical appearance of others (clothing, style, makeup, etc.).
Before and after each participant took the 12-minute walk, the study authors conducted surveys of levels of anxiety, happiness, stress, empathy, and connectedness. When all of this was done, the research team compared the feelings of the first three experimental groups with the fourth control group. And to learn more about the benefits of walking, check out the Secret Little Exercise Tips That Will Extend Your Life here.
The results have been striking to say the least. Students who had been assigned to the Compassionate Group felt significantly less anxiety and more happiness, empathy, caring feelings, and interconnectivity. Likewise, participants within the interconnect group were more empathetic and connected.
Meanwhile, subjects who compared and despised themselves with others showed zero advantages over the control group. In fact, they said they felt much worse all around. Students placed in the top-down social comparison group felt more isolated, less empathetic and less caring.
“Walking around and offering kindness to others around the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” says study co-author Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., professor of psychology at ISU. “It’s a simple, time-saving strategy that you can incorporate into your day-to-day activities.”
Although these results are based on a walk in a building, there is no indication that the same would not be true while walking in a park or any other place where you might meet other people.
The researchers also wondered if some personalities would benefit more from one strategy than another. They had speculated that more narcissistic personalities would have a hard time wishing others good luck, or perhaps more aware people could benefit more from the benevolence strategy. Surprisingly, few differences were noted between the personality types. “This simple practice is valuable regardless of your personality type,” commented study co-author Lanmiao He, an ISU graduate student when this research was conducted. “Extending kindness to others has worked just as well in reducing anxiety, increasing happiness, empathy, and feelings of social connection. “
This is human nature compare themselves to others, but the study’s authors conclude that the comparison is almost always detrimental to well-being. When we look for other people’s weaknesses, or focus only on physical aspects like clothing and appearance, it can turn something as simple as a walk into a pageant or competition.
“At its core, downward social comparison is a competitive strategy,” explains the co-author of the study. Sweet Dawn, Ph.D., lecturer in psychology at ISU. “That’s not to say it can’t have any advantage, but competitive mindsets have been linked to stress, anxiety and depression.”
So, the next time you’re tempted to laugh at someone with a bad haircut on a walk, focus instead on hoping that person has a long and happy life (including finding one. best hairdresser). Injecting genuine cuteness into your walks may be the secret ingredient you’ve been looking for to bring some more happiness to your days. And for more walking tips, check out these secret walking tips for exercise, according to walking experts.