week 2: kindness
"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace."
-The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)
This week you will be challenged to do something kind for another, known as a Random Act of Kindness. Completing random acts of kindness is beneficial not only for the person receiving the act but also the person performing it. In this video, Dr. Dacher Keltner explains why we all are hardwired for compassion and why kind people may be better off than others.
Being kind is a part of our humanity, and recent research has shown that practicing kindness yields positive outcomes for our own well-being. Practicing kindness in everyday life, such as doing something nice for a friend or helping out a stranger, has been shown to be positively associated with higher levels of happiness. Furthermore those who practice kindness continually throughout their lives exhibit increases in happiness that are sustained, whereas those who practice kindness for a period of time and then stop the altruistic behavior at hand are likely to return to their previous levels of happiness until readopting kind behaviors.
In his book Flourish, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains that helping others can improve our own lives:
“We scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”
Lara Aknin states that “The practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed would make you happier, and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,”
Challenge #1 - Random Act of Kindne$$
Grab a few bucks, $5, $10, or however much you'd like to spend, and spend it on someone else.
Take a friend out to lunch, feed a stranger's parking meter, or buy a roommate her favorite candy. Whatever you choose, make sure you're spending your money not on yourself but on someone else: a friend, a stranger, just about anyone!
In a study examining the effects of spending our money on others vs. spending our money on ourselves, evidence suggests that pro-social spending (spending money on our friends, family, strangers, etc.) is good for our well-being and even better for us than self-spending (spending money on ourselves).
The results were as follows:
- People who spend more of their income on others were happier than those who spent less
- People randomly assigned to spend money on others were happier than those randomly assigned to spend money on themselves!
If you'd rather not spend any money at all, then simply do something kind for another person. Hold the door for a stranger, clean the apartment for your roommates, or send a friend a text to cheer them up. The point here is to do something for someone else, to make another person smile (and likely yourself while doing so).
Try at least 2 of the following examples of random acts of kindness:
1. Volunteer for 1 hour this week. (Check out CAB for volunteer opportunities each week:
2. Email a professor or TA that you had in the past or present and tell them something positive you took away from their class or style of teaching.
3. Get in touch with a friend who you have not heard for in a while and see how they are doing.
4. Give someone a genuine compliment about their character.
5. Call or text a family member just to say hi
6. Give a hug to someone who you think may need it.
7. Write a motivational sticky note for a roommate or friend who is studying for something.
8. or make up your own! =]
References & Resources:
Buchanan, K. E., & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology,
Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness:
A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361-375.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General
Psychology, 9(2), 111.
Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between
prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 347-355.
You're done for the week!
Go ahead and click the link below to tell us how the challenges went for you.