Improve Psychological Well-Being and Happiness with Mindfulness

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

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

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

 

Abstract

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.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908241/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Functional Impairment and Avoidance in Major Depressive Disorder

Mindfulness is Associated with Lower Functional Impairment and Avoidance in Major Depressive Disorder

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

People at risk for depression are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs about themselves and this can easily slide into a depressive relapse. MBCT helps them to recognize that’s happening, engage with it in a different way and respond to it with equanimity and compassion.” – Willem Kuyken

 

Clinically diagnosed depression is the most common mental illness, affecting over 6% of the population. Major depression can be quite debilitating, impairing the ability of the patients to effectively conduct their lives. Depression can be difficult to treat and is usually treated with anti-depressive medication. But, of patients treated initially with drugs only about a third attained remission of the depression. After repeated and varied treatments including drugs, therapy, exercise etc. only about two thirds of patients attained remission. But drugs often have troubling side effects and can lose effectiveness over time. In addition, many patients who achieve remission have relapses and recurrences of the depression. Even after remission some symptoms of depression may still be present (residual symptoms).

 

Being depressed and not responding to treatment or relapsing is a terribly difficult situation. The patients are suffering and nothing appears to work to relieve their intense depression. Suicide becomes a real possibility. So, it is imperative that other treatments be identified that can relieve the suffering. Mindfulness training is an alternative treatment for depression. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and its recurrence and even in the cases where drugs fail. Behavioral activation involves engaging with what is going on in the present moment and is thought to help with depression while avoiding symptoms and ruminating tend to exacerbate the depression. There is little data, however, of the interplay of activation and mindfulness in patients with major depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Roles of Trait Mindfulness in Behavioral Activation Mechanism for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202344/), Takagaki and colleagues had adult patients with major depressive disorder complete questionnaires designed to measure behavioral activation for depression including subscales measuring activation, avoidance/rumination, work/school impairment, and social impairment; mindfulness including subscales measuring describe, observe, act with awareness, nonreactivity, and non-judging; depression; and disability.

 

They found that the greater the level of depression the greater the level of disability, avoidance/rumination, and mindful observing and the lower the levels of mindful describing, acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging. Similarly, they also found that the higher the levels of avoidance/rumination the greater the levels of depression, disability, and mindful observing and the lower the levels of mindful describing, acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging. Structural equation modelling revealed that mindful acting with awareness, nonreacting and non-judging was directly negatively related to avoidance/rumination which was in turn positively related to disability. In addition, mindful acting with awareness and nonreacting were directly negatively related to disability.

 

These results are correlative and caution must be taken in making causal inferences. Nevertheless, the results suggest that the degree of disability/impairment in patients with major depressive disorder is directly and indirectly associated with mindfulness with avoidance/rumination as an intermediary. That is, avoidance of a negative aversive state and engagement in rumination rather than active problem-solving to some extent mediates the association of mindfulness with lower levels of impairment in life. Hence, mindfulness is related to the patient’s ability to better conduct their life and it does so directly and indirectly by being associated with less avoidance of psychological pain and less rumination.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with lower functional impairment and avoidance in major depressive disorder.

 

Mindfulness training can “generate positive emotions by cultivating self-compassion and self-confidence through an upward spiral process, although behavioral activation is action oriented while mindfulness emphasizes the acceptance and awareness of present moment emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations, the two can be complementary.” _ Amanda MacMillan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Takagaki, K., Ito, M., Takebayashi, Y., Nakajima, S., & Horikoshi, M. (2020). Roles of Trait Mindfulness in Behavioral Activation Mechanism for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 845. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00845

 

Abstract

Behavioral activation and mindfulness have both been shown to engender improvement of functional impairment in patients with major depressive disorder. In behavioral activation, the practice of engaging with the direct experience of the present moment is central, especially when targeting avoidance. Consequently, mindfulness affects changes of avoidance in behavioral activation. This study was designed to assess exploratory relations among trait mindfulness, avoidance, and functional impairment in behavioral activation mechanism for depression. For 1042 participants with depression only or for depression with anxiety disorders, we used structural equation modeling to examine relations among trait mindfulness, avoidance, and functional impairment. Trait mindfulness non-reactivity, non-judging, and acting with awareness had a direct negative effect on avoidance. Trait mindfulness non-reactivity, trait non-judging, and trait acting with awareness had indirect negative effects on functional impairment. Results show that each trait mindfulness facet exhibited a distinct pattern of relations with avoidance and impairment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202344/