It is no myth anymore; committing absolutely random acts of kindness and altruism can genuinely add to your well-being and happiness. The act of paying it forward is basically just paying forward the kindness we owe to strangers who have helped us out in a pinch. In a study published around 2010 in the Journal of Social Psychology,researchers in Great Britain found that groups that had been instructed to do an act of kindness and something new, every day for ten days, reported increased levels of happiness than the group of people given no such instructions. The measure of a satisfied life is something humanity still hasn’t been able to nail. However, as things stand, we might just be looking in the wrong places.
Lifestyles today are essentially geared around profit, competition and a definition of success that has been more warped today than ever before in the history of mankind.
More and more young professionals are growing increasingly disenchanted with the idea of professionalism they are fed with. There is an ever-increasing divide between the act of becoming what they are told to embrace, and their well-being. Kindness and altruism can help your mind focus more on the happiness around you rather than simply the negatives that abound.
Stanford University psychologist Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky (Ph.D.) conducted a research among her students. She asked them to carry out five random acts of kindness, it could be as innocuous as buying a homeless man some food. A control group was established where students did none of these acts. She found that there is indeed a lot of truth to the connection between kindness and happiness. Students who performed the acts of kindness were happier, with the students who committed all the five acts in one day being the happiest. Apart from the obvious social benefits of kindness, there is a sense of inner gratification that is unlike any other feeling. These feelings only feed into your sense of well-being and happiness and drive you forward towards a more blissful course in life.
Positive feedback loop
The best part about being kind is the satisfaction and happiness it brings to both the parties involved. Those committing the acts of kindness, research shows, are more likely to be inclined to do such deeds in the future. The mere memory of having done something nice is enough to make a person happy, and it works as reinforcement for doing such deeds in the future. Being kind to others, according to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, makes you feel more optimistic, happy and morally grounded.
Here are some ways that random acts of kindness can help you, according to Dr.Lyubomirsky’s research:
- Giving not only makes you feel good and happier, it also makes you feel stronger, more in control, something essential for those feeling low or depressed.
- Compassionate people are often the most successful people.
- Children that are taught kindness at an early age grow up to be more sensitive,happy and sociable.
- Committing regular random acts of kindness may also alleviate your anxiety.
- Altruistic individuals have a less probability of contracting Alzheimer’s disease and have shown to have a stronger immune system, improved cognitive performance, lower heart rate, more energy as well as balanced cortisol levels among a host of other physiological benefits.
- Paying it forward to strangers creates a cascade of kindness as they to pay forward your kindness to others in form of more altruistic actions.
In a nutshell, being kind has a host of benefits that are not only psychological but also physiological. So, the next time you are feeling low or down in the dumps, take a walk outside and see how you can Pay it forward.