Kindness Rules …. And Makes You Happy!
When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
- The 14th Dalai Lama –
The Dalai Lama is talking about feeling kindness toward others, but this isn’t just a pithy saying. The research shows that we can improve our own happiness by being kind to others and giving others our time and/or resources.
I’ll just mention a few of the studies completed. In one 2010 study published in The Journal of Social Psychology, authors Kathryn E. Buchanan and Anat Bardi, found that people who performed a daily act of kindness for 10 days received boosts of happiness. In 2012, another study was published in the online Journal of Happiness Studies demonstrated that people who thought about the last time they spent money on someone else were happier than people who thought about the last time they spent money on themselves. In early 2014, a study was published that was discussed in an article by Lauren Klein. People in the study were on a waitlist to participate in Psychotherapy for issues “ranging from depression to anxiety and substance abuse.” They were asked to journal for two weeks about kindness or gratitude. Those that completed the journal entries about gratitude and kindness, “enjoyed a higher percent of happy days, where they felt optimistic and expected the best. They were also more satisfied with their lives, which they perceived to be meaningful, and they felt more connected with others each day.”
Based on this information, who wouldn’t want to take just a little time to be kinder to others? While there are always plenty of people and places to donate money, we aren’t necessarily talking about giving. I am talking about acting. Very simple acts that one might take for granted. For example, smiling back at the grocery store clerk, even if they didn’t smile at you, looking them in the eye and saying “Hi, how has your day been?” I encourage you not to underestimate the power of a simple smile and a minute of your time to touch base with another human being.
There are a couple more bonuses to these actions.
Often when we make kind acts a part of your lives, we become more present. What do I mean by this? By taking the time to not dismiss the people who surround us every day, but to look for ways to help by holding a door or helping someone across the ice with their groceries, we become more aware of every present moment. We pay more attention to the now, which means we live a little less in the past and future. Note – the past and future are mostly focused on worry anyway! We'll be talking a lot about living in the present on this blog!
Also, kind acts aren’t just for strangers. They can also be a way to reconnect positively with kids and partners, families and friends. Maybe offering someone a ride before they ask or taking the time to remember how they like their coffee or tea.
Are you inspired yet? For parents it can be a great way to lead by example! Share with me below your recent act of kindness. If you need some more inspiration, enjoy this Daily Good post which focuses on the heartwarming images of humanity, 34 Examples of Heart-Warming Humanity.
Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W. & Norton, M. I. (April 2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies. 13(2), 347-355.
Buchanan, K. E. & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology. 150(3), 235-237.
Klein, L. (July 7, 2014). Can’t get therapy? Try gratitude and kindness? University of California Berkeley, Greater Good Science Center. Retrieved at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/cant_get_therapy_try_gratitude_and_kindness.