June 1st was National Say Something Nice Day. If you are unaware of the history, you may be wondering why this is a day worthy of national recognition. The truth is, there is scientific evidence that suggests being kind to others can increase our own wellbeing.
Can kindness really increase happiness? Researchers all over the world believe so, and the evidence shows it does not take long to see the benefits of acts of kindness. What constitutes an act of kindness? Kindness can be as seemingly insignificant as holding the door open for someone in a building, or something more thoughtful such as sending a thank you note and gift to someone in your life unexpectedly.
Research indicates that even the smallest and less effortful acts of kindness have lasting impacts on our wellbeing. It is also possible that you are performing more acts of kindness than you think. In one study, researchers asked participants to count the act of kindness they exhibited for one week. The results found that after just this short intervention participants reported feeling more grateful and happier (Otake et al., 2006).
Why exactly does kindness have this impact? Kindness can increase our connection with others around us, help us feel like we have made an impact in another’s life, which can reduce feelings of loneliness. Intentionally finding ways to show kindness can also help elevate positive emotions.
Some ideas for increasing acts of kindness include:
· Give an unexpected compliment
· Put coins in an expired meter
· Help someone struggling carry their grocery bags
· Write an online review for a favorite restaurant
· Smile at someone
This month, make a note to say something kind or positive to someone, or perform small acts of kindness with no expectation of kindness in return. We hope in doing so, you will see the results yourself as your mood may be lifted through demonstrating these small acts!
Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Ostui, K., Fredrickson, B. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention, Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361-375
Author: Jaclyn Gordon, VAC at TLC Virtual Resiliency