Happiness Habit #4: Acts of Kindness

Happiness Habit #4: Acts of Kindness

 If only I get this promotion, then I will be happy.  If only I could afford a better car, then I’ll be happy.  If only I can find my soulmate, then I’ll be happy. If only I can win the lottery, then I’ll be happy.  I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts.  We think that achievements, possession, and relationships will lead to happiness.  But what that actually results in is just finding the next goal to chase and the chase doesn’t stop.  We cannot rely on external sources for our happiness. 

Research has shown that lasting happiness lies in what we can give: not just material gifts, but gifts of time, gifts of love, gifts of ourselves.  Multiple studies have replicated similar results where participants (even as young as 2) reported increased happiness if their task was related to giving to others vs giving to themselves. Brain imaging studies have shown the pleasure center of our brain is equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves. 

There are many ways you can practice altruism, acts of kindness and compassion, including typical ones we think of such as volunteering or becoming involved in a cause you are passionate about and donating money to causes.  Or even the random acts of kindness such as paying for the person’s order in the Starbucks line behind you. 

But there are many different ways we can practice this kindness and compassion habit in our everyday lives and with people who are closer to us: 

  • Give someone a genuine compliment

  • Be there for a friend and just listen – fully listen (no advice giving, just be there for them)

  • Hold the door open for the person behind you

  • If you notice someone struggling with a task, offer to help

  • Show appreciation to others and say “thank you” even if the thing they did was small

  • Be kind and compassionate towards yourself

  • Smile more and smile at people you pass throughout your day - just to spread cheer

  • Write notes of kindness and appreciation for your friends and co-workers

  • Give a gift and include a note of kindness

  • Write handwritten thank you cards

  • Do one thing for your partner just because you know it will brighten their day without expectation for anything in return

  • Donate useful items 

  • Write a positive comment on a blog or positive review online for a recent experience

  • Leave a generous tip

  • Share positive news stories with friends, families, or on your social media pages

  • Give a plant

  • Help a stranger

  • Say a genuine “thank you” to anyone who serves you

  • Forgive people

  • Make someone laugh

  • Waste fewer resources

  • Let people who are in a hurry go in front of you in a line

  • Call your parents

  • Be happy for someone else’s success

  • Mail birthday cards to friends and family


Happiness is not a scarce resource: the more we give or share happiness, the more you get it back. 


Set a goal or intention in the morning to practice one act of kindness or compassion and get started!


Leave a comment below with more ideas of how to practice kindness or how practicing kindness has impacted your life!