This month we’re focusing on Choosing Happiness. We began with an overview of the research that shows what the happiest people do in their lives, then we worked through some key ways you can increase your happiness.
We started by teaching you to Notice Your Life, then focused on two core practices, Gratitude and Forgiveness, and last week we offered you an exercise to help you Know What You Want.
Interestingly, doing this series on Choosing Happiness has brought a lot of happiness to our whole team. Your comments and successes have genuinely brought us great joy. Thank you!
This week we want to talk about two more things that the happiest and healthiest people have throughout their lives – kindness and service.
There are a number of reasons these two behaviors are good for you.
- When you’re kind and of service to others, you perceive yourself in a more positive light and increase your sense of being a part of a larger community.
- When you’re helping others, you have an awareness of how much you have in your own life.
Both behaviors lead to higher positive emotions, even higher than being on the receiving end of the kindness of others.
There are several things you can do to gain the benefits of kindness and service (and you don’t have to become a saint to do so.) Even small, brief acts of kindness and service will support you in choosing happiness.
Pick a day or two a week, each week, and do something for others. It can be as simple as letting a car out of a street ahead of you or volunteering in an organization whose mission touches your heart.
Small acts of kindness are powerful ways to choose happiness.
Give a hug to a friend in need, or help a woman with a stroller get into a building.
The more you watch for opportunities to be kind, the more you will see how much the world is ready for your kindness, and you will get the emotional and health boosts regularly.
Mix it up.
Doing the same thing and over again can reduce the impact of your kindness and service so be creative to ensure that you can get the most delight from your growing service.
Consider kindness as an important income in your life. Recent studies have shown that becoming more kind, compassionate, and giving actually makes people happier than a higher income (assuming you have an income that is adequate for your survival.)
Weaving kindness and service into your life is good for you but going overboard at your own expense can be problematic and harmful to your health. Giving up too much of yourself to help others can lead to chronic stress.
There is so much research that shows that people who are caregivers to someone with a chronic illness can have up to three times the level of depression than the average person.
All of the major spiritual and religious traditions have some version of love your neighbor as yourself. If you reflect on the wisdom of that guideline it says that you MUST love yourself a lot to love your neighbor an equal amount.
So many of our clients hear only the love your neighbor part and forget that it is a two sided coin; kindness and service to others is only possible if you are kind to yourself so that you have the fuel to be generous.
What will be your act of kindness and service this week? Let us know.
You’re the best!
Hugs to you,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting