How great would it be if we could walk into any store and buy lifelong happiness? It’s actually not that hard to do—as long as whatever we buy is meant for someone other than ourself.
Research suggests that when we give to others, it makes us happy—even happier than if we spent money on ourselves. And when kindness is given, it creates a cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism. Thus, when you engage in a kind deed, you feel happier and the happier you are, the more likely you are to do another kind act.
The reason for this is that, as humans, we are “hard-wired” for kindness and compassion. Kindness affects the way we see each other and influences our outlook on the world. It should come as no surprise, then, that kind people see the world as a better place. Kindness and compassion make us more alert about what we can do for others. It reduces anxiety, fear, stress, and depression.
When we are performing regular acts of kindness—no matter how small—we tend to live more satisfying, engaging lives. So, while an apple a day can help keep you healthy, a good dead or two done every day can support happiness and good mental health.
One organization, www.kindness-365.org is challenging all of us to cultivate more kindness by helping us to form a “kindness habit.” Another, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (www.randomactsofkindness.org) provides examples for all kinds of simple ways to spread kindness each and every day. Here are just a few examples:
- Send a humorous card or letter to someone and make them laugh.
- Take a great photo of someone you love and mail or email it to him or her.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
- Pay for someone’s coffee or dinner.
- Put extra change in a parking meter.
- Buy a small gift for someone. Just because.
- Let another car merge in front of you, or stop to let a pedestrian cross the street, without griping.
- Hold the elevator door open for someone.
- Sign up to be an organ donor.
- Check in on an elderly neighbor to make sure they are alright.
- Carry around a small care package of food or toiletries that you can give to a homeless person.
- Leave a big tip.
- Tell someone you love “I love you!”
- Donate a small sum of money to a charity you love.
- Involve your kids in community service.
We’d like to challenge you to do at least one kind thing every day for the next 365 days. Are you up for the challenge? We hope so—it can change the world!
Aknin, L. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback look between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 347-355.
Dixon, A. (2011). Kindness makes you happy…and happiness makes you kind. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/kindness_makes_you_happy_and_happiness_makes_you_kind
Vivinetto, G. (2015). The secret to happiness? Take our poll. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/kindness/secret-happiness-acts-kindness-says-new-study-t30021