Common courtesy and civility can be a rare occurrence in the hustle and bustle of daily life. It can be easy to get caught up in our many responsibilities and feel we just don’t have time to help others or stop to make a kind gesture.

When was the last time you helped someone without expecting anything in return?

I wish I could say I did this more often, and not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because research shows that committing acts of kindness is one intentional activity that can have a major influence on our level of happiness.

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky reveals a plethora of information on how we can live a happier life in her wonderful book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. According to some of her research one way to boost positive emotions and well-being is to commit random acts of kindness.

Committing acts of kindness offers many benefits such as:

  • Giving us positive self-regard and feeling better about our own good nature
  • Providing more positive social interactions and chances to make friends
  • Relieving distress about other peoples’ misfortunes
  • Leading to a greater likelihood people will help us in return
  • Helping us see the world as a more generous and caring place

There are a few keys to consider in getting the most out of your acts of kindness.

1) The greater the variety of kind acts the better – Committing a wide variety of kind acts has a greater impact than doing the same thing over and over again.

2) Commit more acts of kindness in a shorter period – Respondents in studies showed higher rates of happiness by committing more acts of kindness within a shorter period of time, as opposed to spreading them out across numerous days.

3) Do something you wouldn’t normally do – Showing kindness in a way you wouldn’t usually do is an important factor. Think of ways to show kindness that isn’t a natural part of your daily life or normal responsibilities.

There are countless ways to show you care, such as letting someone go ahead of you in line, doing chores that you normally don’t do, or helping a stranger in need.

Consider all the ways you can offer kindness to others and begin making a list that you can apply when the time arises. You can also check out 31 Days of Kindness a Manifesto for Making Kindness a Daily Habit, which is an initiative for the month of March from the personal development site The Bridgemaker. There are over 132 ideas for showing kindness to others.

Kindness is about being considerate and thoughtful of others, and it’s also about living intentionally to incorporate caring and kindness into the community and world we live in. Start displaying more kindness today, not just others but for your own good.

Photo Credit: ~maya*maya~