In a new study out of the University of Waterloo, researchers found that practicing deliberate compassion toward others can make you feel better about yourself.
Researchers found that women who frequently compare themselves to others can develop a healthier body image and engage less in disordered eating if they shift their mindset away from seeing other women as competitors. According to a press release, the study is “the first to demonstrate that trying to cultivate compassion for others—by wishing them to be happy and free from suffering—may, in turn, benefit one’s own body image and eating attitudes.” The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Body Image.
“Making comparisons with one another comes naturally to us, and in modern society, that is especially common when it comes to women and their bodies,” said PhD candidate Kiruthiha Vimalakanthan in a statement. Vimalakanthan, along with Allison Kelly, a professor of psychology at Waterloo, co-authored the study.
Data collected from 120 females of mixed ethnicities with a mean age of 20.7 years, showed women who intentionally act compassionately towards the females to whom they compare themselves experience a heightened body-image contentment, a reduced motivation to diet and a lower tendency to compare their appearance to others.
So perhaps the secret to feeling good is seeing the good.
“In a world where it is increasingly becoming easier to focus on competing and comparing oneself with others, especially with social media and other technological advances, this research is an important contribution to eking out more space for us to practice compassion in our daily lives,” says Vimalakanthan.