Kindness Leads to Happiness

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Are you kind? Do you practice kindness? If not, how do you do it? Let’s explore…

Let’s start with a basic definition: Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Does that sound like something you would like to incorporate into your daily life? Wouldn’t that make this world a better place to live? If you’re on board, then read on…

In a recent blog on Aligning Your Values and Goals I mention that kindness is an important value that not everyone has (but I certainly wish it was widespread). In some cultures you may generally notice that kindness is more common than in others.

However, did you know that there is a World Kindness Day celebrated every year on November 13? A simple Google search will pull up several organizations that are resourceful for day-to-day kindness information. One example is the Random Acts of Kindness organization which states on its website:

Imagine a world.

Where people look out for each other.

Where we all pay it forward.

Where success is measured in selfless acts.

Where kindness is the philosophy of life.

Now what about happiness? Does kindness actually lead to happiness? Yes, studies have shown that practicing kindness by giving to others (rather than receiving) can lead to more happiness.

What’s even more exciting is that this can lead to a virtuous cycle which may increase our lasting happiness. According to one study completed by Harvard and University of British Columbia researchers and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, two happiness findings were apparent according to the authors:

  1. People in general felt happier when they recalled a time they bought something for someone else. People felt even happier than when they remembered buying something for themselves.
  2. The happier people felt about their past generosity, generally the more likely they were in the present to choose to spend on others instead of themselves.

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So then how do we get to a point where we are practicing more kindness, especially if we feel like we need more of it within ourselves in order to be kinder to others? Kind behavior tends to come to us more naturally when we’re moving towards compassion and connection with others.

Intentionally practicing kindness in our everyday lives, even on days when we’re not in a particularly generous mood, can go a long way toward turning kindness into a habit. That’s largely because of the way kindness breeds happiness: The good feelings serve to reinforce our kind acts and make us more likely to want to perform them in the future.

To state this another way – making concerted effort to perform more kind and generous acts in the short term tends to increase the amount of kindness we perform over the long term. Wow, pretty simple hey?

As Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind says:

Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin
Don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind.

Maximizing the positive effects of generosity can help with kindness as well. One strategy is to take the initiative to learn about the impact of your generosity, which can elicit contagious feelings of joy. For example, see this video of a bone marrow donor meeting the little girl whose life he saved.

So get out there and practice kindness. Let’s all chip in individually to help make this world a better place.

Stay kind,

-Kevin

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