September 26, 2022 | Barb Carr

Increase your Level of Happiness in just 12 Minutes!

level of happiness

What do you do when you’re feeling down? Some might spend time with friends, others may watch a comedy movie or go out to enjoy a favorite meal. Nothing is wrong with any of those strategies. However, research has shown that it doesn’t take that much effort or time (only 12 minutes, in fact) to boost your level of happiness, (and best of all, it’s free!)

This post is the fourth in my monthly series, “The Psychology of Happiness,” (leading up to the Global TapRooT® Summit, April 26-28, 2023).

The Study

A team of Iowa State University researchers conducted a study. They asked college students to walk around a building for 12 minutes and practice one of these three strategies:

  • The first group practiced a loving-kindness strategy by looking at people they encountered and thinking genuine, good thoughts about them.
  • The second group practiced an Interconnectedness strategy by looking at people they encountered and thinking about hopes and feelings they might share with them.
  • The third group practiced a downward social comparison strategy by looking at people they encountered and thinking about how they may be better off than them.

While practicing these strategies, they were instructed to focus on the person’s outward appearance (their clothing, colors worn, textures, accessories). The students were assessed before, and after the 12-minute activity for anxiety, happiness, stress, empathy, and connectedness.

The Results

Guess which one turned out to be the best strategy for increasing one’s level of happiness?


Believe it or not, simply taking a few minutes a day to look around and wish others well in your mind can improve your feelings of well-being. You don’t even have to speak to them! But, what if you are not a particularly warm and fuzzy person? No worries! The Iowa study found that loving-kindness was effective for a wide range of personality types.

It’s also interesting to note that the students who practiced downward social comparison did not raise their level of happiness at all. Competitive mindsets have been linked to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Increase your Level of Happiness Practicing Loving-Kindness

Practicing loving kindness is so simple!

Start with your family, friends, and co-workers and extend from there. As the study revealed, you don’t even have to have a conversation with them, simply observe them and think genuinely kind and loving thoughts about them. Learning how to be more mindful will help in becoming better at this practice because mindfulness is focusing on what you are sensing without interpretation or judgment.

Once you get into the practice, extend your reach to acquaintances and strangers. You may find that wishing others well brings you a higher level of peace for people you found to be difficult before.

Learn More About the Science of Happiness

Plan to join me and my team at the beautiful Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe-Houston, Texas, April 26-28, 2023. Learn more about the psychology of happiness by joining my keynote session.


Caring for Others Cares for the Self: An Experimental Test of Brief Downward Social Comparison, Loving-Kindness, and Interconnectedness Contemplations.

Summit, Summit - Speakers
Show Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *