It looks like we have one more reason to be kind to one another. New studies by Kindness.org in partnership with Oxford University show that consciously engaging in just one kind act a day can make you a happier person. They also found that the more kind acts you perform for others, the happier you are.
The research looked at past studies on happiness and found that on average, people who perform acts of kindness for others regularly score one point higher on a 10-point happiness scale than those who don’t. They then put those other studies to the test by running an experiment to see if consciously performing kind acts for seven days could change one’s view of the world.
When you do something nice for someone else, it activates the pleasure centers in your brain and produces serotonin–a neurotransmitter linked to happiness and mood balance. The phenomenon in the brain when you give is incredibly similar (almost identical) to when you receive kindness. That means getting that happy feeling is totally in your control.
This study in particular found that after performing those seven days of conscious kindness, participants scored higher on tests that measured well-being, compassion, trust, positivity about humanity and connection. They also found that when people performed more than the one act required a day, they scored even higher. You can improve your own life, simply by improving the lives of the people around you (or strangers). The study also found similar happiness results when participants observed acts of kindness between others too.
A main takeaway from this study is that when we are more attuned to kindness, we are happier. It’s easy for us to get bogged down in negative news and feelings that the human race just isn’t that great (because sometimes we just aren’t) but consciously taking note of and performing kind acts breaks that negativity cycle and reminds us that sometimes humans are pretty good to each other.
So why not challenge yourself to do seven days of kindness and see if it improves your outlook on life? You could even sign up for another study Kindness.org is starting soon to further investigate the science of kindness.