Have you ever wondered if it is possible to cultivate that pleasant feeling of connectedness and gratitude towards others just by yourself? It might seem counterintuitive, but it is possible, as this study shows.
They tested the Buddhist technique of loving-kindness meditation (LKM) against a control group. Notably, participants were practicing meditation for an average of 1,7 hours per month, so you do not need to be some experienced monk to benefit from this practice.
The LKM group received instructions on how to mentally direct compassion towards others and themselves for seven minutes, while the control group spend that time with neutral stimuli. After that, both groups were asked to evaluate imagery of themselves and others. It was found that both explicit and implicit attitudes improved after practicing LKM as participants showed more positivity towards neutral strangers and slightly more positivity towards the self, while the control group did not have any of these effects and valued themselves slightly worse.
Many strive for ideals like living in harmony and love with others and turning these explicit ideas into genuine positivity, expressed by affective responses, is difficult. Loving-kindness meditation however poses the possibility to cultivate a more positive outlook on the outside and more acceptance on the inside. Future research will be needed to determine how stable these effects are over time but if you have seven minutes to spare, this might be it to finally implement a more harmonious and loving you!
Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8(5), 720-724. doi:10.1037/a0013237