Research Paper

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 963-981

First online:

Practicing Compassion Increases Happiness and Self-Esteem

  • Myriam MongrainAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, York University Email author 
  • , Jacqueline M. ChinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Queens University
  • , Leah B. ShapiraAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, York University

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The current study examined the effect of practicing compassion towards others over a 1 week period. Participants (N = 719) were recruited online, and were assigned to a compassionate action condition or a control condition which involved writing about an early memory. Multilevel modeling revealed that those in the compassionate action condition showed sustained gains in happiness (SHI; Seligman et al. in Am Psychol 60:410–421, 2005) and self-esteem (RSES; Rosenberg in Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1965) over 6 months, relative to those in the control condition. Furthermore, a multiple regression indicated that anxiously attached individuals (ECR; Brennan et al. 1998) in the compassionate action condition reported greater decreases in depressive symptoms following the exercise period. These results suggest that practicing compassion can provide lasting improvements in happiness and selfesteem, and may be beneficial for anxious individuals in the short run.


Compassion Compassionate action Attachment Happiness Self-esteem