Little Acts of Kindness

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Little Acts of Kindness

Carrying out little acts of kindness to others is clearly good for them. Of course we can get something from it too. Giving also connects us to others. We can create stronger communities and towns for everyone. It doesn’t have to ba about money. We can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, try a little act of kindness. 

Why Helping Others Matters

It could be a one off, small, impulsive act or regular. Perhaps you help a stranger, family, friend, work colleagues or neighbours. They could be any age, close or far away. Whatever you do is a powerful way to boost your happiness amd those you are helping.

As giving isn’t just about money, it really doesn’t matter if you are struggling financially. Giving to others can be as simple as a single kind word, smile or a thoughtful gesture. It can include giving time, care, skills, thought or attention.

Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness. [1] It increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood and reduced stress. It can help to take our minds off our own troubles too.

Kindness towards others is be the glue which conncts individual happiness with wider community and societal wellbeing. Giving to others helps usconnect with others.

Kindness and caring also seem to be contagious. When we see someone do something kind or thoughtful, or we are on the receiving end of kindness, it inspires us to be kinder ourselves. [3][4] In this way, kindness spreads from one person to the next, influencing the behaviour of people who never saw the original act. Kindness really is the key to creating a happier, more trusting community.

The Benefits of Helping Others

Helping Increases Happiness

Recent scientific research demonstrates so. On one such experiment, participants carried out five new acts of kindness on one day per week over a six-week period. The result demonstrated an increase in well-being, compared to control groups.

In another study, participants who spent £5 or £10 on others or charity experienced greater happiness than people given the same amount on themselves. Interestingly the amount of money did not effect the level of happiness generated.

A whole host of other trials indicate the pricipal of a virtuous circle. In short happiness makes us give more, giving makes us happier, which leads to a greater tendency to give and so on. This effect is consistent across different cultures.

It makes sense that helping others contributes to our own happiness. Scientists are reconsidering the idea of the ‘selfish gene’ and are exploring the evolution of altruism, cooperation, compassion and kindness. [13] Human beings are highly social creatures and have evolved as a species living with others.

If people are altruistic, they are more likely to be attractive to others. They will build social connections and stronger supportive networks, leading to increased feelings of wellbeing. Indeed participating in shared community tasks like Wigan Litter Pickers, can be a great way to feel good about yourself. It also helps build friendships.

Giving feels good

In a study of over 1,700 women volunteers, scientists described the experience of a ‘helpers’ high’. This was the euphoric feeling, followed by a longer period of calm, that volunteers felt after helping. Such sensations come from the release of endorphins. A longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being follows. That feeling of self-worth, reduce stress and improves the health of the helper.

Older motivational theories claimed that human beings only did things when they got something in return. Yet that could not explain people who did kind acts or donated money anonymously. Studies of the brain now show that when we give money to good causes, the same parts of the brain light up as if we were actually receiving money.

When we help others then we activate the part of our brains which make us feel good. It then motivates us to do more.

Giving does you good

Giving help has a stronger association with mental health than receiving it. Studies have shown that volunteers have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and they feel more hopeful. It is also related to feeling good about oneself. It can serve to distract people from dwelling on their own problems and be grateful for what they have. Volunteering is also a ggreat provider of psychological wellbeing.

Giving may increase how long we live. Studies of older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t. This included support to friends, relatives, and neighbours and emotional support to their spouse. In contrast, receiving support did not influence living longer.

in an eight year study of 2,500 people in their 70’s volunteering also appeared to maintain a healthy cognitive functioning . Others studies have of teenage volunteers has shown improved self-esteem. It also gave a reduction in anti-social behaviours, truancy. Above all participant attitudes to school and educational achievement increased.

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