How Just Looking At Animals Makes Us Feel Good
How are you feeling today? Chances are no matter what your mood, just looking at the image of the cute kitten that accompanies this article has made you feel better. The benefits of animal ownership have been well-documented and also animals as therapy for a wide range of physical and psychological ailments. There’s a miniature Shetland pony in my area who visits hospice patients, standing next to their beds or wheelchairs so they can pet her. Just interacting with her for a few minutes brings joy to people who might not get to see animals (and certainly not horses!) otherwise.
But animals don’t have to be there in person to elevate our mood. New research from Japan has found that even looking at pictures of cute animals – such as this fluffy kitten, not only makes us feel good but increases productivity at work! Researchers at Hiroshima University found students who looked at images of cute animals such as puppies and kittens, performed set tasks with greater care and ease while those who were given ‘less cute’ animals to look at or images that contained no animals, didn’t do nearly as well. The study, called ‘The Power of Kawaii’ (Japanese for ”cute”), discovered that the positive emotions the images trigger, not only create feelings of happiness and wellbeing but result in a narrowed attention focus – in other words it improves our ability to concentrate. The researchers concluded that exposure to cute animal images could have the same effect as having the animal there – improving our sense of wellbeing and also our productivity.
If you’re not able or ready to have a pet of your own, or if you need that soul-boost to get you through your working day, installing that desktop wallpaper of those kittens or looking at cute animal videos on YouTube could be the next best thing when it comes to enjoying the gifts that animals can bestow. And if your boss catches you on-line at work, you can always tell them you are researching ways to improve your productivity! So, next time you feel like having a laugh about that co-worker who keeps photos of her cat on her desk, think again. She could be onto something.
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