Your kindness to others — your co-workers, your friends and family, your neighbors, those in your community and in the world at large — doesn’t just benefit them. In fact, recent studies show that you, too, benefit when you’re kind to others.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at University of California, Riverside, found being kind has a profoundly positive effect on happiness. In her experiment, Dr. Lyubomirsky assigned her students to do 5 random acts of kindness each week for six weeks. The happiness levels of these students increased by 42%.
So, why not give kindness a try? Here are 5 ways to turn kindness into happiness — for you and for others.
1. Remember how easy being kind can be.
Think for a minute about all the different ways you can express kindness to others during the course of a day, and just how easy it would be to do it. Thank your coworker for helping you with an assignment, or show appreciation to your spouse or children for doing something special for you. Practice gratitude with friends and strangers alike. The benefits will be tremendous — and long lasting.
2. Show compassion every day.
Soon after you start your morning, think of one specific act of compassion you’ll accomplish that day, and then be sure to do it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing — start with small steps. As with developing any habit, working to increase our capacity for kindness requires daily practice.
3. Find reasons to smile.
Smiling is by far one of the most recognizable and most powerful acts of kindness, and it costs nothing to do. Making a conscious effort to smile loudly projects kindness to the world. And if someone smiles at you, don’t hesitate to return the gesture. Believe it or not, this simple act of kindness may instantly change someone’s life for the better.
4. Show gratitude often.
Expressing your gratitude toward someone — most often by saying a simple “thank you” — is an extremely powerful way to communicate kindness. It takes just seconds to accomplish, and the person who receives your gratitude will glow with happiness when they receive it. Chances are, they’ll pass on your gratitude to someone else too.
5. Be kind to yourself.
While we often aim the kindness spotlight at others, it’s important not to forget to be kind to ourselves. Unplug from your responsibilities and busy routine — even if for just 15 minutes — and take some time just for yourself. You’ll come back stronger than ever.