Nick's Headspace: Meditation? Don't worry, look happy

March 15, 2012

Nick's Headspace: Meditation? Don't worry, look happy


We all want people to think of us as attractive social company, so if you fancy making a few more friends, meditation might be your answer.

Previous research has found that other people link how happy you seem to how likeable and trustworthy you are. Scientists from Radboud University in the Netherlands carried out two experiments and found that outside observers rate those who meditate as happier than those who don't.

In the first study, researchers interviewed a group of 13 novice meditators before and after an intensive nine day meditation retreat. Scientists interviewed the participants for seven minutes and then selected a 15 second sample of them describing their day. This was shown to a group of 80 observers who rated how happy each person seemed. The observers perceived the meditators as significantly happier after the retreat.

For the second study, scientists used a group of 10 experienced meditators and 10 novices to test their theory. Each person was interviewed and asked about their day. Scientists showed a 15 second clip of each interview to 46 outside observers and asked them to rate how happy they appeared. The meditators were seen as being significantly happier than those who didn't.

The authors of the study suggest mindfulness meditation may help manage intense emotional experiences. This may in turn lead to a happier person, a sunnier disposition and hopefully, more friends as a result.

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