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Kindness makes you happy

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The Science of Kindness

It’s sad to say that in today’s compensation society, there is lack of true kindness towards complete strangers and increasingly also toward those closet to us. Real Altruism seems as fictional today as the characters who help others in children’s books and comics, but science is beginning to show that random acts of kindness  makes you happy.

A study in Britain took three groups and asked them to take a ‘Life Satisfaction’ survey. The researchers then asked group one to perform one act of kindness each day for ten days while group two were asked to do one new thing every day for ten days and group three received no instructions. After the ten days were up each person was asked to do another Life Satisfaction survey and the results showed marked increases in happiness across groups one and two with group three remaining unaffected. This suggested that random acts of kindness could indeed increase the feeling of happiness in the individual performing such acts.

The act of giving

A similar study which took place in America asked participants to recall a time they had spent a certain amount of money, ranging from $20 to $100, and then fill out a scale to measure how happy they were. kindnessOther participants were asked to remember a time they had given a gift of similar value to someone else and fill out the same scale. On average people who remembered giving a gift were increasingly more happy but also in a later study where participants were asked to take an amount of money and anonymously either buy something for themselves or give a gift, the participants who previously reported higher levels of happiness when asked to remember giving a gift were more likely to act altruistically and give the gift. The effect is referred to as a ‘Positive Feedback Loop’ where feeling of happiness and acts of kindness reinforce each other.

The effect has been linked to the hormone Oxytocin which regulates how we transmit our emotions, it is most common during pregnancy and child birth and is believe to support emotional transmitters such as facial expressions to assist in the bonding process. Studies have shown that acts of kindness and even daily thoughts of kindness produce higher levels of Oxytocin and improve our social bonding skills which in turn led to greater feelings of social acceptance, stronger relationships and increased happiness.

Helping people

So there you go, next time you are feeling a little down in the dumps then why not treat the special people in your life to a nice meal or a movie, and with the silly season fast approaching remember the importance of not just giving gifts to people but also small acts of kindness like helping with dinner, giving someone a lift home, going round to say hi to the neighbours and giving them a bottle of wine. Anything you can do to help someone who may be a little less fortunate than yourself and the likelihood is you will feel a million times better for it in the long run and that act of kindness will lead to happiness which will make you more likely to be nice to someone again.

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About Steven Petter

About Steven Petter

Steve has three children, Connor, Harmony-Skye and Fletcher. He is a Martial Arts enthusiast as well as an avid reader of books about Philosophy, he began writing short stories and also writes music reviews.

Website: Steven Petter

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