Improve Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“So how does meditation lead to greater happiness? “Loving-kindness is designed to elicit positive emotions. We are stretching the way we pay attention by looking for the good in ourselves or wishing ourselves well through loving-kindness.” – Caren Osten
“Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern-day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to view our experience and not judge it, not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather mindfulness lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to increase positive emotions and happiness. But there is a need to further investigate the effects of mindfulness on positive emotional states.
In today’s Research News article “A New Second-Generation Mindfulness-Based Intervention Focusing on Well-Being: A Randomized Control Trial of Mindfulness-Based Positive Psychology.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8976107/ ) Zheng and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive mindfulness meditation instruction for 2.5 hours per week for 6 weeks followed by 20 minutes of meditation practice along with home practice. They were measured before, during (every 2 weeks), after, and 3 months after the treatment for satisfaction with life, positive and negative emotions, psychological well-being, mindfulness, attitudes toward self and others, and self-compassion.
They found that the mindfulness meditation program produced a significant reduction in negative emotions and significant increases in self-compassion and environmental mastery. They also found that the greater the amount of meditation practice the higher the levels of positive emotions, positive relations, and awareness.
So, mindfulness meditation increased positive psychological states in healthy adults.
“In order to have the resiliency to face difficulties . . . we need to find and nurture the positive parts of ourselves, and make a point of paying attention to experiences that give us pleasure.” – Sharon Salzberg
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch
Zheng, Y., Zhou, J., Zeng, X., Jiang, M., & Oei, T. (2022). A New Second-Generation Mindfulness-Based Intervention Focusing on Well-Being: A Randomized Control Trial of Mindfulness-Based Positive Psychology. Journal of happiness studies, 1–22. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-022-00525-2
Second-generation mindfulness-based interventions (SG-MBIs) align well with positive psychology philosophy and practices, but trials of SG-MBIs have largely focused on ill-being. This study developed a mindfulness-based positive psychology (MBPP) intervention integrating positive psychology with an SG-MBI to enhance well-being. A randomized control trial was performed to compare MBPP with a waitlist condition among 138 Chinese participants. The results showed that MBPP significantly reduced negative emotions for subjective well-being and significantly improved environmental mastery for psychological well-being. Improvements in self-compassion and negative attitudes but not avoidance, mediated changes in well-being. Changes in positive emotions, positive relations, and awareness were associated with the amount of meditation practice. These findings showed that MBPP is promising for improving well-being and that the positive psychology components play important roles. Broadly, the study illustrated that positive psychology and SG-MBIs can be effectively integrated, and it supported the further application of SG-MBIs from the positive psychology perspective.