A recent study out of Columbia University and CUNY (Midlarsky et al 2018) investigated how simply visualizing helping another would affect one’s mood and emotions among participants aged 60 and older.
Results showed that visualizing helping a needy stranger led to more positive affect than visualizing being social with friends or walking down the street (the control condition).
However, differences were found among the participants such that those who reported high levels of social responsibility demonstrated significantly greater positive affect than those who didn’t. Those who self-reported less of an altruistic orientation to life actually experienced an increase in negative emotions when imagining helping others.
Clearly, individuals vary. Not every one values social responsibility and altruism. But for those who do, the research shows that prosocial behavior (even the imagining of it) will make you feel positive emotions and experience greater overall mental health.
Here are a few inspirational stories to check out:
Starbucks to Pay Employees to Spend Half of Work Hours Volunteering for Charities
Strangers Carry Injured Woman Down the Mountain When She Couldn’t Continue Hike
This teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.
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