When I was younger, I was a Boy Scout and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. One thing I had to do during my scouting experience was memorize the Scout Motto: “Do a good turn daily.”
It turns out the Boy Scouts were on to something when it comes to our happiness.
We have all performed some acts of kindness at one time or another. These acts may be large or small, and those benefited may not even be aware of what we did. Yet their effects can be profound to the recipient but and also to the giver.
Think about times when you have done a random act of kindness and remember how you felt. Did it make you happy?
A recent social media post I saw was a man explaining that he randomly purchased the coffee for a group of paramedics ahead of him at the coffee shop. He didn’t go into the shop expecting to do this, but when he saw this group of first responders he was compelled to pay for them. He commented about how it was the best $20 he spent and how happy he felt. That feeling continued as people, who have family members that are first responders, thanked him for his efforts online.
The world was a brighter, and happier place, because this man spent $20 on a random act of kindness to strangers.
This man’s feeling happy in not a coincidence. Researchers have studied participants who were asked to perform five acts of kindness every week for six weeks. They measure the participants level of happiness before and after to discover a significant boost in happiness, but only if they performed their five acts in a single day rather than spread out over each week.
Random acts of kindness makes you feel happier because it makes you think more highly of yourself and you become more aware of positive social interactions. It may also increase your “pro-social” attitudes (kindness, compassion, etc…) and tendencies toward others. Pro-social attitudes have been found to be a key component to happiness in many scientific research.
Variety is also key: People who perform the same acts over and over show a downward trajectory in happiness, perhaps because any act starts to feel less special the more it becomes routine.
Can random acts of kindness improve your happiness? You bet. Just perform some random acts of kindness and see if it puts a smile on your face and boosts your happiness.
If you want bigger results, try doing 5 random acts of kindness in a single day. Vary them up, and do them for different people.
A good day to do these random acts of kindness would be one where you are feeling a little down, but anytime will do.
It’s a guaranteed way to boost your spirits, and make you happier.
To wrap up, let’s listen to Glen Campbell remind us to “Try a Little Kindness.”
Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness
If you are looking for examples of random acts of kindness that you can incorporate into your life, check out the following page:
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K., &; Schkade, D. (2005), Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change, Review of General Psychology, 9 (2), 111-131.