Kindness Leads to Happiness

Are you kind? Do you practice kindness? If not, how does one actually “do” kindness? Let’s explore…

Starting with a basic definition: Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Does this describe you? If not, why not? Does kindness sound like something you would like to incorporate into your daily life? Holistically, wouldn’t kindness help make this world a better place to live? If you’re on board, then read on…

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.

Kindness is an important value that not everyone has (but I certainly wish it was more widespread). You may generally notice that some people are more kind than others. Why are some people so kind, and how does this relate to 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 buying for others 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.

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.

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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 tends to breed 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, when broken down it sounds pretty simple hey?

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 here (p.s. get out the kleenex!)

“Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable increase in momentary well-being than any other exercise we have tested”.

–Martin Seligman

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

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.

Stay kind,

-Kevin

Embracing Your Best Life Every Day

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As I sit here having breakfast in Victoria BC, I look out of a window and can see a snippet of the ocean and lots of beautiful trees including the beautiful Arbutus tree. As wonderful as this is, you know what I found even more exciting? You guessed it – one of my fave songs from the 80’s (I have many) appeared on the radio station – Heaven by Warrant. Isn’t it interesting and wonderful how happy moments can appear out of the blue anywhere you are? Why is this?

As human beings we have the ability to make a conscious choice to embrace life and live our best life. It’s almost magical how fear, anxiety, anger, etc seem to diminish when you are “in the moment” focused on something more positive.

Now, living our best life can mean different things to different people. I don’t suspect hearing Warrant on the radio is an absolute joy for many of you as it is for me and I’m ok with that. I’m me and you’re you, and this is a wonderful thing. What would life be like if we were all exactly the same? Yawn….boring perhaps?

Living your best life is really about showing up in the moment, wherever and whenever that may be. Remember that wherever you go, there you are.

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Life is also lived best when we accept life as it is (suspending judgment, but you never judge right….RIGHT?!?). Also every day remember to try and learn from your mistakes (yes we all make them), and then making better choices every day because you learned from your mistakes…right!?!

Want this year to be the best one yet? It’s not too late to start. Keep in mind that making better choices throughout the day often involves, but definitely not limited to the following 9 important elements:

  • Openness – opening your heart to love and new experiences. Even in you shut down at times, it’s not too late to reverse these instances. Ask yourself why you shut down. Try to detach from negativity in your past, it’s not who you are now. Take the high road.
  • Mindfulness – practice, practice, practice. Try taking some deep slow breaths every day. When you catch yourself lost in thought, bring it back to the present moment. Wherever you show up, be there 100%.
  • Resilience – getting back up and dusting off whenever life challenges you or knocks you down. Everyone takes knock downs in life. Get back up. If you stumble, try again and again. If you need to take a different direction then adjust your sail. Don’t ever quit!
  • Kindness – choosing kindness and compassion over the need to always be right (one aspect of the essence vs the ego). It takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. Be a bigger person.
  • Values – living true to your values. Do you know what being in-congruence with your values means? It’s when what you do aligns with what you value. Living this way leads to peace of mind.
  • Giving – give or give back in some meaningful way. This can be through giving your time or money. Consider the phrase…life is not about me, it’s about WE.
  • Courage – turning your fears into courage. I know from experience…easier said than done hey. This one is not easy but it’s doable. Life isn’t about living in our comfort zone and wishing everything is perfect. Life is never this way and that’s in part what makes life so interesting. It’s about feeling the fear or scariness of something but pushing yourself to do it anyways. You might trip, or even flat out do a face plant. And that’s ok. Dust yourself off and try it again. And again. Courage takes practice. There are countless successful people in the world who failed so many times but they didn’t let that stop them.
  • Acceptance – this one is so important. It’s about accepting who you are, scars and all! You are perfectly imperfect. You are beautiful…YES YOU!
  • Growth – do one thing today that you didn’t do yesterday. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Be a better person today than you were yesterday. Growth gives us meaning and something to look forward to in life.

A joyful best life has many different facets. This blog has mentioned several different areas of life that we will fully explore in the near future. I plan on taking you along on a wonderful journey as we explore and discuss how to embrace life and live in the version of your best self.

If you have anything to add to this or any general questions on living your best life I would love to hear from you.

We are all in this together.

Living a joyful best life,

Kevin