"Acts of kindness produce the single most reliable increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested."
- Dr. Martin Seligman, Positive Psychologist, University of Pennsylvania
It’s difficult to be happy if you don’t feel connected to others. I’ll bet that your happiest memories are with other people.
Acts of kindness help us build social connections and feel more connected with others.
🔎 How it works
Humans are social animals. We are hardwired to seek out connection.
Our brains reward us when we do kind things for others. Kindness releases chemicals, like oxytocin, that help us form social bonds based on trust.
These acts of kindness are contagious. So not only do they make us feel connected, they help build a connected community. The receiver of a kind act is then more likely to go forward and help others in the future. It has a ripple effect.
💪 Try now
Here are some acts of kindness that you could start right now:
Help blind and low-vision people with everyday tasks from your home: https://www.bemyeyes.com/
Join a mutual aid network to support your neighbors. Find some here: https://www.mutualaidhub.org/
But your act of kindness doesn’t have to be some big global mission. Even little things like holding a door open for someone are proven to be helpful.
📈 Some stats
A famous study from 1966 demonstrated that study participants who observed an act of kindness were “significantly more likely” to help others after their observation. — Northwestern University
A 2012 study of 3,000 people found “significant” links between helping others and self-esteem, self-efficacy, and social connectedness. — La Trobe University
“People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status and many more. This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church.” — Christine Carter, Author, “Raising Happiness; – In Pursuit of Joyful Kids and Happier Parents”
You don’t need other people to be happy, lots of people are happy all by themselves.
Totally! But I would argue that it’s more difficult since humans are naturally social. And even solitary people can give kindness to strangers on the street.
It’s not a genuine act of kindness if you’re only doing it to make yourself happier.
You probably won’t see much benefit if you’re only interested in helping yourself. But it’s possible to want to help both yourself and someone else. You’ll have to be mindful about your intentions.
Social isolation can be harmful for our health. Acts of kindness are one of the best ways to solve this.
I challenge you to find one wholly unexpected kind thing to do tomorrow and just do it. Notice what happens to your mood.
📖 Read more
The science of kindness: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness
Ripple effect study [pdf]: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/j.2333-8504.1966.tb00542.x
📱 Practice more
Download Bold CBT. You can try this exercise and other mental health exercises. It’s an iOS app that I made.
🙏 Thank you
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