Welcome to the second experiment of this series.
We’re going to look at another experiment that has been shown to increase our happiness. It’s perfect for this time of the year as it’s all about giving, with a difference. So if we do decide to try this one out, it will have the added benefit of adding more meaning to this festive season, which unfortunately has become more about buying stuff than spreading goodwill.
One of my favourite happiness psychologists Sonja Lyubomirsky got a group of people to perform five non-financial acts of kindness a week for 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 week period the research team found that all participants reported increased levels of happiness.
What was even more interesting however was that the participants who did all five acts of kindness on a single day every week increased their happiness by an amazing 40%! Wow!
Why it works
Neuroeconomist (yep it’s a profession) William Harbaugh found that when we see ourselves giving to others it activates a part of our brain that is usually activated when our basic needs, such as eating tasty food, are met. It’s pretty awesome to think that there is a direct link between giving to others and happiness in our brains.
What to do
Rate your current level of happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. With 1 being ‘very unhappy’ and 10 being ‘extremely happy – couldn’t be any happier’.
Brainstorm for 10 minutes, 30 acts of kindness that you could do throughout the day. They could be as simple as making someone a coffee, helping a tourist who looks lost, stopping to let another driver get out of a side street, giving blood, singing carols in an old people’s home…the list is endless.
Decide which day of the week is going to be your ‘great virtue and kindness’ day. On that day look for opportunities to carry out 5 of your acts.
Repeat for 6 weeks.
Rate your levels of happiness once more. Ta Daaa you’re officially a kinder and happier version of yourself.
I would love to hear what acts of kindness you’re planning on doing, or have done. Please comment on this blog or e-mail me at Karen@the1bigthing.com