Skip to main content

Mindfulness and Compassion as Foundations for Well-Being

Abstract

It is widely agreed that well-being is the ultimate goal or at least a primary aim of policy, but what do we know about how to increase well-being? A large body of evidence has accumulated about many and diverse skills and processes that lead to greater subjective well-being. This chapter explores the idea that two mental practices might underlie well-being, and many of the specific skills that form the backbone of positive psychology and other well-being interventions. They are mindfulness and compassion, which are increasingly being used as secular interventions. Evidence from behavioural and neuroscience investigations broadly supports the theoretical accounts of their mode of action. The chapter concludes that not only is there strong and growing evidence of the well-being benefits of mindfulness and compassion training, but that the skills and processes they engender are so fundamental, that learning them is likely to magnify the benefits of other programs designed to enhance well-being.

Keywords

  • Emotion Regulation
  • Positive Psychology
  • Mindfulness Training
  • Mindfulness Practice
  • Bodily Awareness

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-56889-8_39
  • Chapter length: 9 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-56889-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   74.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    For a detailed explanation of discrepant findings see Huppert (2017).

References

  • Bastounis, A., Callaghan, P., Banerjee, A., & Michail, M. (2016). The effectiveness of the Penn Resiliency Programme (PRP) and its adapted versions in reducing depression and anxiety and improving explanatory style: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 52, 37–48.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Batink, T., Peeters, F., Geschwind, N., van Os, J., & Wichers, M. (2013). How does MBCT for depression work? Studying cognitive and affective mediation pathways. PloS One, 8(8), e72778.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Berger, R., & Tarrach, R. (2017) (under review). Enhancing resiliency, wellbeing and pro-social behavior among Israeli elementary school children by using a mindfulness and compassion-based program: Call to Care – Israel.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berger, R., Brenick, A., & Tarrach, R. (2017) (under review). Reducing stereotyping and prejudice among Israeli-Jewish elementary school children via a mindfulness and compassion-based program.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 119.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Breines, J. G., & Chen, S. (2012). Self-compassion increases self-improvement motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9), 1133–1143.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). Benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4(84), 822–848.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mindfulness interventions. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 491–516.

    Google Scholar 

  • Creswell, J. D., & Lindsay, E. K. (2014). How does mindfulness training affect health? A mindfulness stress buffering account. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(6), 401–407.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cutuli, J. J., Gillham, J. E., Chaplin, T. M., Reivich, K. J., Seligman, M. E., Gallop, R. J., Abenavoli, R. M. and Freres, D. R. 2013. Preventing adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing symptoms: Effects of the Penn Resiliency Program. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 5(2), 67.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalai Lama. (2010). https://twitter.com/dalailama/status/19335233497210880

  • De Waal, F. (2010). The age of empathy: Nature’s lessons for a kinder society. Broadway Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(1), 94–122.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Donald, J. N., Van Zanden, B., Duineveld, J. J., Sahdra, B. K., Atkins, P. W., Ciarrochi, J., & Marshall, S. L. (2017). Can your mindfulness benefit others? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the link between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour. Under review.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisenberger, N. I., & Lieberman, M. D. (2004). Why rejection hurts: A common neural alarm system for physical and social pain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(7), 294–300.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13(2), 172–175.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Galla, B. M. (2016). Within-person changes in mindfulness and self-compassion predict enhanced emotional well-being in healthy, but stressed adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 49, 204–217.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Garland, E. L., Farb, N. A., Goldin, P. R., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2015). Mindfulness broadens awareness and builds eudaimonic meaning: A process model of mindful positive emotion regulation. Psychological Inquiry, 26(4), 293–314.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Geschwind, N., Peeters, F., Drukker, M., van Os, J., & Wichers, M. (2011). Mindfulness training increases momentary positive emotions and reward experience in adults vulnerable to depression: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(5), 618.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Giluk, T. L. (2009). Mindfulness, big five personality, and affect: A meta-analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(8), 805–811.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., Berger, Z., Sleicher, D., Maron, D. D., Shihab, H. M., & Ranasinghe, P. D. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357–368.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36–43.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Huppert, F. A. (2014). The state of well-being science: Concepts, measures, interventions and policies. In F. A. Huppert & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Interventions and policies to enhance well-being. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huppert, F. A. (2017). Living life well: The role of mindfulness and compassion. In J. Forgas & R. Baumeister (Eds.), The social psychology of living well. London: Psychology Press. in press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huppert, F. A., & Ruggeri, K. (2017). Controversies in wellbeing: Confronting and resolving the challenges. In D. Bhugra, K. Bhul, S. Wong, & S. Gillman (Eds.), Oxford textbook of public mental health. Oxford: Oxford University Press. in press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jazaieri, H., Jinpa, G. T., McGonigal, K., Rosenberg, E. L., Finkelstein, J., Simon-Thomas, E., Cullen, M., Doty, J. R., Gross, J. J., & Goldin, P. R. (2013). Enhancing compassion: A randomized controlled trial of a compassion cultivation training program. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1113–1126.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041–1056.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., Brantley, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health: Perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1123–1132.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kottke, T. E., Stiefel, M., & Pronk, N. P. (2016). “Well-being in all policies”: Promoting cross-sectoral collaboration to improve people’s lives. Preventing Chronic Disease, 13(4).

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuyken, W., Watkins, E., Holden, E., White, K., Taylor, R. S., Byford, S., et al. (2010). How does mindfulness-based cognitive therapy work? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(11), 1105–1112.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Leiberg, S., Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2011). Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game. PloS One, 6(3), e17798.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • MacCoon, D. G., MacLean, K. A., Davidson, R. J., Saron, C. D., & Lutz, A. (2014). No sustained attention differences in a longitudinal randomized trial comparing mindfulness based stress reduction versus active control. PloS One, 9(6), e97551.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Mental Health Europe. (2016). Mental Health Europe strategic priorities 2016–2019. Retrieved from http://www.mhe-sme.org/about-mhe/strategic-priorities/

  • Morgan, B., Gulliford, L., & Kristjánsson, K. (2017). A new approach to measuring moral virtues: The Multi-component gratitude measure. Personality and Individual Differences, 107, 179–189.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Niemiec, R. M. (2013). VIA character strengths: Research and practice (The first 10 years). In Well-being and cultures (pp. 11–29). Springer, The Netherlands.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nila, K., Holt, D. V., Ditzen, B., & Aguilar-Raab, C. (2016). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) enhances distress tolerance and resilience through changes in mindfulness. Mental Health & Prevention, 4(1), 36–41.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Papies, E. K., Pronk, T. M., Keesman, M., & Barsalou, L. W. (2015). The benefits of simply observing: Mindful attention modulates the link between motivation and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(1), 148.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quinlan, D., Swain, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2012). Character strengths interventions: Building on what we know for improved outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(6), 1145–1163.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Robertson, I. T., Cooper, C. L., Sarkar, M., & Curran, T. (2015). Resilience training in the workplace from 2003 to 2014: A systematic review. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88, 533–562. doi:10.1111/joop.12120.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Lawlor, M. S. (2010). The effects of a mindfulness-based education program on pre-and early adolescents’ well-being and social and emotional competence. Mindfulness, 1(3), 137–151.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shapira, L. B., & Mongrain, M. (2010). The benefits of self-compassion and optimism exercises for individuals vulnerable to depression. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(5), 377–389.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shonin, E., & Van Gordon, W. (2016). The mechanisms of mindfulness in the treatment of mental illness and addiction. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1–6.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., Compare, A., Zangeneh, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015). Buddhist-derived loving-kindness and compassion meditation for the treatment of psychopathology: A systematic review. Mindfulness, 6(5), 1161–1180.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Singer, P. (2015). How to build a caring economy. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/01/how-to-build-a-caring-economy/

  • Singer, T., & Klimecki, O. M. (2014). Empathy and compassion. Current Biology, 24(18), R875–R878.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tan, L. B., Lo, B. C., & Macrae, C. N. (2014). Brief mindfulness meditation improves mental state attribution and empathizing. PloS One, 9(10), e110510.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(4), 213–225.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tugade, M. M., Shiota, M. N., & Kirby, L. D. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of positive emotions. New York: Guildford Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watkins, P. C. (2014). Gratitude and the good life. Dordrecht: Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Weare, K. (2016) Mindfulness in education. In M. A. West (Ed.), The psychology of meditation: Research and practice (pp. 259–281). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weinstein, N., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). When helping helps: Autonomous motivation for prosocial behavior and its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 222.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011). Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. London: Hachette.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890–905.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Worline, M., & Dutton, J. E. (2017). Awakening compassion at work: The quiet power that elevates people and organizations. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zessin, U., Dickhäuser, O., & Garbade, S. (2015). The relationship between self-compassion and well-being: A meta-analysis. Applied Psychology. Health and Well-Being, 7(3), 340–364.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zoogman, S., Goldberg, S. B., Hoyt, W. T., & Miller, L. (2015). Mindfulness interventions with youth: A meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 6(2), 290–302.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Felicia A. Huppert .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 The Anglican Church of Australia Collegiate School of Saint Peter trading as St Peter's College

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Huppert, F.A. (2017). Mindfulness and Compassion as Foundations for Well-Being. In: White, M., Slemp, G., Murray, A. (eds) Future Directions in Well-Being. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56889-8_39

Download citation