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.

elephant-dog-kindness

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