New review of the research finds that mindfulness benefits the people around you.
Can mindfulness make you a kinder person? That’s the question Australian researchers asked when they reviewed 31 published studies linking mindfulness and prosocial behavior.
The result – those with mindful dispositions, and people who’d completed some form of structured mindfulness instruction were more compassionate and helpful than less mindful individuals and those who hadn’t tried mindfulness training. In turn, prosocial people were also less judgmental, more empathic and positive, and were better able to regulate their emotions.
There were some interesting exceptions.
"...your mindfulness benefits everyone around you."
Adults tended to be more prosocial than teenagers. This might be because we’re generally more self-focused in our teen years than later in life. What’s more, people who rated themselves higher in mindfulness were also found to be more helpful to people they knew compared to strangers. This wasn’t the case for those who’d attended formal mindfulness training. They reported being just as kind to people they knew than to those they didn't.
One big surprise was that being prosocial was not linked to what type of mindfulness people practiced. Whether meditation training, or compassion-focused instruction, mindful individuals tended to be socially-minded, debunking the myth that the benefits of mindfulness are only limited to the person who practices it.
In other words, your mindfulness benefits everyone around you.
Donald, J. N., Sahdra, B. K., Van Zanden, B., Duineveld, J. J., Atkins, P. W. B., Marshall, S. L., & Ciarrochi, J. (2018). Does your mindfulness benefit others? A systematic review and meta‐analysis of the link between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour. British Journal of Psychology, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12338