If you would like to be happier, and only have one wish, choose kindness. Being kind may not be the immediate solution to solve your problems, but it is definitely a tried and tested path towards happiness.
The connection between engaging in acts of kindness and becoming happier may not be obvious. Not to most people anyway.
You may have just lost your job, had an argument with your partner or be stuck in a mountain of debt. And the way out of this rut is to go do something nice?
It’s understandable how people can be skeptical about the whole be kind to be happy thing.
What Does It Mean To Be Kind?
Generally, kindness is viewed as doing something nice – being generous, being helpful, being compassionate, being loving, or any number of positive things to do for others.
Ezra Taft Benson shares a more detailed explanation:
“One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others. He is considerate of others’ feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others’ weaknesses and faults. Kindness is extended to all – to the aged and the young, to animals, to those low of station as well as the high.” — Ezra Taft Benson
It is multi-dimensional:
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” — Lao Tzu
It helps to make you feel better:
“I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.” — Lady Gaga
It’s simply the ultimate goal:
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else ….. Kindness – that simple word. To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.” — Roald Dahl.
How Does Kindness Lead To Happiness?
Kindness isn’t some magic bullet, it won’t instantly solve your problems. Even though your acts of generosity could have a magical impact on someone else’s life, the benefits to you are more subtle.
Unfortunately, kindness is often misunderstood. If only more people are aware of how powerful it can be to create happiness, there wouldn’t be as much sadness and suffering.
Kindness is the key to happiness because it has multiple benefits that compound to magnify the effects all around:
- Being kind makes other people happy
- Being kind makes you feel good
- Being kind creates long term happiness
So how exactly does it do all this?
#1 Being Kind Makes Other People Happy
The ability to spread joy to those around you may not automatically lift your spirits. But it does set the foundation for people to reciprocate the generosity and compassion you’ve shown.
And this will inevitably create an environment for you to be happier.
Genuine kindness is giving without expecting something in return. But as Princess Diana highlighted:
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” — Princess Diana
Combine that with Scott Adam’s:
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” — Scott Adams
And you can see how your continual acts of kindness can accumulate, multiply and eventually circle back to fill your life with joy.
#2 Being Kind Makes You Feel Good
Intuitively, we know that it feels good to help someone out.
Scientists can now explain this from studies which observed that when we give generously, our brains respond in a similar way to when we receive pleasure. In short, we feel good because it gives us a sense of well-being.
As Lara Honos-Webb Ph.D. explains,
“By making a conscious decision to do something nice daily, we’ll all have a little more thoughtfulness, kindness, helpfulness, compassion and niceness on our minds.”
Being kind changes your brain – it fills you with niceness. And that makes you feel better.
#3 Being Kind Creates Long Term Happiness
There is a two prong effect of how being kind brings joy into your life.
First, we get the immediate positive physical response in our brain to produce a gratifying feeling. But it is the second, environmental effect, that may play a big part to help you become happier from a more fulfilled life.
By being kind to everyone, you will touch many people in positive ways that will make them want to give back. Kindness begets kindness.
Over time, you will build up a stable network of genuine friendships, and be surrounded by people who like you, value you and are willing to help when you’re in need. These strong bonds will fill your life with love, laughter, and a deeper sense of meaning.
A Framework To Be Happy
There’s a difference between doing something nice once in a while and being a kind person. The kindness approach towards a happier life is a slow and steady one, rather than a quick fix.
It is a positive mindset and attitude that provides a framework on how to think, how to act and how to be. It helps to define who you are, what you say and why you do things.
It is a longer term, lifelong plan to lead a fulfilling, joy-filled existence. It is a way to have ongoing contentment rather than moments of delight.
Each act of kindness contributes towards your identity, your belief systems, and your foundation to be a healthy, caring, giving person. There is an incremental effect that is self reinforcing to produce a true, lasting feeling of happiness.