Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The power of kindness

The fourth intentional activity from The How of Happiness is practicing acts of kindness. Recall from my earlier blog that it’s these intentional activities and habits that can account for as much as 40% of our happiness. The first intentional activity was expressing gratitude, the second was deliberate optimism, the third was to stop overthinking and comparing ourselves to others.

Healthy relationships are very important to our happiness. Happy people have better relationships, so building relationships is a powerful strategy for becoming happier. Being kind to others is a simple and effective way to expand and strengthen our network of relationships. Kindness works for a number of reasons:

· It helps us perceive others more positively
· It helps us perceive ourselves more positively
· It can take our mind off our own problems
· It can lead to a chain of reciprocal positive events. Helping others may lead people to like us more and be more likely to offer us help in our times of need.

Be intentional and strategic in practicing kindness in order to maximize the benefits. Do too little, and you won’t feel anything. Do too much, and you will feel overburdened.

Do something new, and continue to add variety to your acts of kindness. Make it a habit, but don’t let it become routine. And make sure to acknowledge the acts of kindness you witness others doing. If someone treats you with kindness, thank and compliment that person, then consider telling someone else about their kindness. When you are ready, move outside your comfort zone and find someone new to be kind to – it can be as simple as saying “hello” and taking the time to talk to them and learn more about them.

Work can be stressful at times, sometimes daily! If you have a bad day, let it go. Make a deliberate decision to get back to practicing kindness to others the very next day. If you can’t think of anything else, then just bring donuts to work! That always works for me :)

Finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. And isn't it interesting that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to do good things for others?

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