Little acts of kindness really do provide a small, but significant boost to happiness.
Things like running an errand for a neighbour, helping someone in the street or giving someone a present unexpectedly all boost the giver’s happiness.
That’s to say nothing of the happiness of the person who received the help.
Psychologist have even found that helping others boost happiness more than helping yourself.
This could be because helping others helps to nurture social relationships.
Researchers pooled the results of 21 different studies to reach their conclusions.
The happiness gains from an act of kindness are equivalent to one point on a 1-10 scale, the study’s authors concluded.
The study’s authors conclude:
“These effects are comparable to other positive psychology interventions.
This suggests that performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help to nudge it in the right direction.”
Acts of kindness have even been suggested as a way to help people experiencing excessive amount of anxiety.
Dr Oliver Scott Curry, the study’s lead author, said:
‘Humans are social animals. We are happy to help family, friends, colleagues, community members and even strangers under some conditions.
This research suggests that people do indeed derive satisfaction from helping others.
This is probably because we genuinely care about others’ welfare, and because random acts of kindness are a good way of making new friends, and kick-starting supportive social relationships.’
Dr Curry continued:
‘Many groups in the last decade have been keen to establish a link between kindness and happiness, including the UK government.
Offering kindness to others has been explored as a possible panacea for many of our social ills, ranging from social isolation to more serious mental and physical health conditions.
Our review suggests that performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help nudge it in the right direction.
We recommend further research is done to compare the effects of being kind to family and friends as opposed to strangers.
This is an area about which we know surprisingly little at the moment.’
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Open Science Framework (Curry et al., 2016).