As we prepare for our next event on Kindness to Self and Other (click here for info), I thought I'd do some research into the connection between kindness and happiness.
It turns out, science has found they are strongly linked!
Here's what they said over at Berkeley Centre:
Two recent studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.
They go on to highlight one of the studies:
In one of the studies, published last year in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers in Great Britain had participants take a survey measuring life satisfaction, then they assigned all 86 participants to one of three groups. One group was instructed to perform a daily act of kindness for the next 10 days. Another group was also told to do something new each day over those 10 days. A third group received no instructions.
After the 10 days were up, the researchers asked the participants to complete the life satisfaction survey again.
The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant—and roughly equal—boost in happiness; the third group didn’t get any happier. The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good—even when performed over as little as 10 days—and there may be particular benefits to varying our acts of kindness, as novelty seems linked to happiness as well.
An interview by Gretchen Rubin with Sonja Lyubomirsky found more compelling reasons to be kind:
Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier. My favorite is doing acts of kindness. The generous acts don’t have to be random and they don’t have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.). We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness.
That's great news, isn't it?
In our next event, we shall also be exploring kindness to yourself. We think that's just as important. In fact, leading researcher Kristin Neff says self-compassion (which includes self-kindness) is also more powerful than high self-esteem:
There’s the data supporting the fact that self-compassion has the same mental health benefits as self-esteem: less depression, more optimism, greater happiness, more life satisfaction. But self-compassion offers the benefits without the drawbacks of self-esteem. Self-esteem is associated with narcissism; self-compassion isn’t. It’s self-compassion, not self-esteem, that predicts stability of self-worth—a type of self-worth that isn’t contingent on outcomes—as well as less social comparison, less reactive anger.
So both self-kindness and kindness to others leads to greater happiness. Both for you and those to whom you're kind.
Find out more at our next event in London. Or if you can't make it, follow us online and we shall share some of what we discover in future posts.