This technique is a stripped-down version of the loving-kindness meditation used to develop compassion in Buddhism, says study author Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Iowa State University in Ames.
The effects will range from barely-there to large-scale depending on who you direct your thoughts toward. “It’s like going to the gym to strengthen your kindness muscle,” says Gentile. He compares wishing friends well to lifting a light weight—it’s relatively easy to do and won’t result in much change. Focusing on difficult people in your life, however, is like going heavy and will have the most benefits.
The bottom line:
“It’s a type of self-care,” says Gentile. And you don’t need to pair the mental practice with walking—you can do it at your desk, in the car, or at home. The key is that you send thoughts solely with the other person’s happiness (not your own) in mind, such as “I hope your race went well” or “I hope your family is healthy.”