Practice Kindness—Reap the Rewards

By Kim Strobel

August 29, 2017

How Making Happiness a Habit Can Change Your Life

I live my life practicing what I call Happiness Habits. These are simple tools I use to bring more positivity into the present moment, allowing my brain to experience what happiness researcher Shawn Achor calls a “happiness advantage.” He calls it an advantage because a positive brain outperforms one that is negative, neutral, or stressed.

But in order for a happiness habit to work, you have to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE it. (Education entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani calls it “Blisscipline” or “The Discipline of Bliss.”)

You can’t just wish your life was better. You can’t simply wish you were richer … happier … in better shape. It’s not enough to slap a picture on your vision board and sit back and wait. You have to take ACTION. Happiness has to involve creating actionable habits.  

One of my Happiness Habits is Random Acts of Kindness. I know you’ve heard of this idea. It’s a super-simple practice that anyone can adopt. Write a positive email to praise or thank someone. Send a pick-me-up text to a friend going through a tough time. Smile at a stranger and ask how they are. Sincerely thank the person who bagged your groceries.

One of my habits is taking a run on the beach when I’m on vacation. I’ll see couples out for a stroll, and often they’re struggling to take a selfie with the beautiful ocean background. So, I pause my run and offer to take the picture for them. You wouldn’t believe how thankful they are for this simple offer of help. And I get to jog off feeling like my happiness level has risen just a bit.

A while back, I decided to send a handwritten card to one person per week for an entire year. Once, the card went to a friend on Facebook who’s super-positive and supportive of others. Another time, it was to our postal carrier who always does such a good job. Several times, I’ve sent cards to people I don’t know particularly well, but who do things that make the world just a little bit better for those around them. And just recently, I wrote a kind note to someone in our community who I knew was struggling with being shamed for something she didn’t do. I just wanted her to know that I recognize and understand her pain.

These are all relatively easy things that cost me nothing more than a few moments of my time. I took action, made a small difference in a few people’s lives, and I feel so much happier for it!

So, now I want to see how actionable you are by giving you one simple task: Take 30 seconds and send a text to someone to let them know that they’re appreciated.

That’s it. Easy, right? And you’ll be amazed by how much it will uplift you and them. It increases your feeling of social support—you become happier by making others happy.

It’s all about action. I’ve taken conscious steps to do things that make myself and others happy. Our brains just feel better when we make others feel good. So, go out in the world, and share kindness. Your happiness levels will thank you!
(BTW … practicing Randoms Act of Kindness is just one of my 5 Happiness Habits. Join me at one of my upcoming live events to learn about the others!)

  • Kim,
    Your positivity is slowly wearing off on me. I’ve been much more intentional in my actions. I’m in a huge conference out of town. I made it a point to sincerely thank several hotel workers who individually made my entrance much more pleasant last night. They were genuinely earned compliments that I might not have shared in my past. It felt great to me and their big smiles told me I made a difference in their evening as well.

    • I do the same thing when I stay at hotels and it’s amazing what a small gesture can do and the ripple effects it can have. Kuddos to you, my friend.

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