Improve Psychological Well-Being and Happiness with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Mindfulness has been shown to help us be healthier, less affected by stress, more relaxed, more creative, more open to learning, sleep better, improve our relationships with others and feel happier and more satisfied with our lives.” – Action for Happiness
There has accumulated a large amount of research demonstrating that mindfulness practices have significant benefits for psychological, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. They have been shown to improve emotions and their regulation. They also increase happiness levels in practitioners. It is not known how mindfulness improves well-being and happiness, directly or through intermediaries. That is, does mindfulness produce these benefits directly or by altering a variable that in turn affects well-being and happiness.
In today’s Research News article “Relationships between Mindfulness, Purpose in Life, Happiness, Anxiety, and Depression: Testing a Mediation Model in a Sample of Women.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908241/ ) Crego and colleagues recruited online a transnational sample of adult women and had them complete online measures of mindfulness, purpose in life, behavioral activation, happiness, anxiety, and depression. These data were analyzed with regression analysis and structural equation modelling.
They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness, the higher the levels of purpose in life, behavioral activation, and happiness and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. Similarly, the higher the levels of purpose in life, the higher the levels of mindfulness, behavioral activation, and happiness and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression. Finally, the higher the levels of behavioral activation, the higher the levels of mindfulness, purpose in life, and happiness and the lower the levels of anxiety and depression.
To untangle these similar associations, structural equation modelling was performed. It revealed that mindfulness was directly associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety and depression. But mindfulness was also indirectly associated with these variables through positive associations with purpose in life and behavioral activation which in turn were associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
The findings are correlative, so caution must be exercised in making causal inferences. But previous research has shown that mindfulness training results in significant increases in purpose in life, behavioral activation, and happiness and significant decreases in anxiety and depression. So, the current findings likely represent causal connections between the variables. Hence, mindfulness improves psychological well-being directly and also indirectly by increasing purpose in live and behavioral activation which also improve psychological well-being. Clearly, being mindful leads to happiness.
So, improve psychological well-being and happiness with mindfulness.
“Happiness isn’t about being upbeat all the time. Instead, think of it as a trait—one that helps you to recognize even the tiniest moments of joy, to fully embrace the good stuff in life without pause, and to know that even when things aren’t going well, this hard time, too, shall pass.” Kelle Walsh
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Crego, A., Yela, J. R., Gómez-Martínez, M. Á., Riesco-Matías, P., & Petisco-Rodríguez, C. (2021). Relationships between Mindfulness, Purpose in Life, Happiness, Anxiety, and Depression: Testing a Mediation Model in a Sample of Women. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(3), 925. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18030925
Mindfulness is connected to positive outcomes related to mental health and well-being. However, the psychological mechanisms that account for these relationships are largely unknown. A multiple-step multiple mediator structural equation modeling (SEM) model was tested with mindfulness as the independent variable; purpose in life and behavioral activation as serial mediators; and happiness, anxiety, and depression as outcome measures. Data were obtained from 1267 women. Higher mindfulness was associated with higher levels of happiness and lower anxiety and depression symptoms. The association of mindfulness with the outcome variables could be partially accounted for by purpose in life and behavioral activation. The SEM model explained large proportions of variance in happiness (50%), anxiety (34%), and depression (44%) symptoms. Mindfulness is associated with both a sense of purpose in life and engagement in activities, which are also connected with positive outcomes. Moreover, having purposes in life is linked to higher levels of behavioral activation.