I’ve yet to meet anyone who disputes that being kind to another makes the giver themself feel happier. All research points towards this, and that not only does it make us feel better to give, but our brain’s pleasure and reward centres light up, as if we were the recipient of the good deed ourself!
To me this has always been obvious; if you give you will feel better. Being kind is key to my existence, a part of my philosophy on life, so I wondered why, despite my giving on what I thought was a daily basis, I’d reached the point where it really didn’t feel like it was making me happy. So I started reading.
Research shows time and time again that helping others makes you feel less isolated, less likely to experience symptoms of depression and it improves self-esteem and confidence. Interestingly, if you dig deeper there are a few tips that may help some of you out there who are natural habitual givers. These types of people take it for granted to be kind, and therefore don’t necessarily realise they are doing it. So evidence shows that when being kind and giving to others there are a number of ways to boost our own happiness levels. One is to do a variety of acts. They may be as small as a smile, or giving up your seat on the tube, to making a poorly person dinner, or calling a friend in need. Another is to do a number of kind acts in one day. Research shows that spreading them over a week may diminish their salience and power, making them less distinguishable from your normal everyday kind behavior. This is where writing it down comes in. If you make a note in your gratitude diary of not only what you did to help another, but how it made you feel, it is very likely you will recognise your kindness, appreciate it and feel better about yourself.
Now we know that being kind to someone else isn’t about making ourselves feel better, but if this is a side effect then surely that must be great news! Research shows too that the more we help others, the more we ourselves will continue to give, and the more the recipients of our kindness will also give – it’s called, “Paying Forward”. It’s win, win, win on today’s happynesshub Hint! With one minor caveat. Do not, not, not in the process burn yourself out. Givers in life can sometimes take it too far, ignore their own wellbeing, and make themselves ill. So keep an eye on that – and go be kind to someone now!
Wishing you a happy and giving Day 9!
Please click here for further research on Kindness and Giving.