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Week 2: Kindness

 

"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace"

-The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)

 

This week you will be challenged to do something kind for someone else, known as a Random Act of Kindness. Completing random acts of kindness is beneficial not only for the person receiving the act, but also the person performing it. In this video, Dr. Dacher Keltner explains the ways we are hardwired for compassion and why kind people may be better off than others.


 

Why Kindness?

Recent research has shown that practicing kindness yields positive outcomes for our own well-being. Practicing kindness in everyday life, such as doing something nice for a friend or helping out a stranger, is positively associated with higher levels of happiness. Furthermore, those who practice kindness continually exhibit increased, sustainable happiness, whereas those who temporarily practice kindness then stop are likely to return to their previous levels of happiness until readopting kind behaviors.

In his book, Flourish, University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman explains how helping other improves our own lives:

"We scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested"

Lara Aknin states "the practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed makes you happier and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act." 

 

Challenge #1: Random Acts of Kindne$$

Grab a few bucks$5, $10, whatever you'd like to spend and spend it on someone else; take a friend to lunch, feed a stranger's parking meter, buy your roommate their favorite candy. In a study examining the effects of spending your money on others vs. yourself, evidence suggests that pro-social spending (spending money on friends, family, strangers, etc.) is better for our well-being than self-spending. 

If you'd rather not spend money, then simply do something kind for someone else like holding open a door for someone else, cleaning your apartment for your roommates, or send an encouraging text to a friend to cheer them up.

 

Challenge #2: Kindness Checklist

Try to complete at least 2 of the following examples of random acts of kindness.

1. Volunteer for 1 hour this week. (Check out CAB for volunteer opportunities)

2. Email a professor or TA (currently or in the past) and tell them something positive you took away from their class or style of teaching

3. Get in touch with a friend you haven't heard from in a while and see how they're doing

4. Give someone a genuine compliment about their character

5. Call or text a family member just to say hi

6. Give a hug to someone who you think may need it

7. Write a motivational sticky note for a roommate or friend who is studying for something

8. or make up your own!


 

References & Resources

Buchanan, K. E., & Bardi, A. (2010). Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 150(3), 235-237.

Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361-375.

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111.

Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 347-355.