How Two Innate Capacities Can Improve Mental Health

How Two Innate Capacities Can Improve Mental Health

Improving your mental health is not always the same as boosting your happiness.

But sometimes it is.

Overcoming depression and anxiety and other forms of distress won’t always create more positive emotions such as happiness.

But sometimes it will.

At the end of the day, most of the things we can do to pick ourselves up when we’re down, will also, maybe with some tweaks, lift ourselves even higher in terms of thriving and flourishing.

So, whether you’re trying to just survive or whether you’re aiming higher to thrive and live a happier life, this article is almost certainly well worth reading …

via Psychology Today Douglas LaBeir

KEY POINTS

  • Research underscores that individuals’ interconnection with others is crucial to their mental health.
  • Acts of kindness have been found to diminish anxiety and depression.
  • Positive communication with a friend during the day leads to greater well-being afterwards.

“There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others…that if society suffers, we ourselves suffer. The more our hearts and minds are afflicted with ill-will, the more miserable we become. Thus we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion.” — The Dalai Lama

Sometimes, the best empirical research is that which confirms what we already know or intuitively feel: a truth that’s innate to all humans. Something right there, after you strip away your family experiences, see beneath the ideology you’ve learned in whatever culture you were raised in, and question what you were taught a “successful” person is or should be.

Two recent studies are good examples of a core truth: that we’re all interconnected and interdependent for both our survival and thriving in life. Both reveal, in different ways, the human longing for a positive connection and the capacity for kind actions, especially when we see others in need of help. Significantly, these studies show that acting upon both is positive for your mental health.

Acts of kindness

The first, from Ohio State, found that engaging in acts of help and kindness towards others relieves symptoms of anxiety or depression. More so than therapy, even. The study found that performing acts of kindness had a powerful impact on one’s feeling connected to others. And as the study’s co-author, David Cregg, pointed out, “Social connection is one of the ingredients of life most strongly associated with well-being.”

How so? The research found that acts of kindness had such a positive effect because they helped people shift their mental focus away from symptoms like anxiety or depression. For example, senior researcher Jennifer Cheavens explained, “We often think that people with depression have enough to deal with, so we don’t want to burden them by asking them to help others. But these results run counter to that. Doing nice things for people and focusing on the needs of others may actually help people with depression and anxiety feel better about themselves.”

More simply put, a good antidote to depression—or self-pity or just negative thinking about yourself—is to do something that helps someone else. This report from Ohio State describes how the study was conducted. It was published in The Journal of Positive Psychology...

… keep reading the full & original article HERE