Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 963–981 | Cite as

Practicing Compassion Increases Happiness and Self-Esteem

  • Myriam MongrainEmail author
  • Jacqueline M. Chin
  • Leah B. Shapira
Research Paper


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 



This project was funded by a grant to the first author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The article is based on portions of the second author’s honours’ thesis which was supervised by the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Myriam Mongrain
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jacqueline M. Chin
    • 2
  • Leah B. Shapira
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueens UniversityKingstonCanada

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