The Kinder You Are, The Better You Feel

It’s Official: The Kinder You Are, The Better You Feel

A Good Turn a day may just keep the doctor away, according to a recent study

For some time now, Good Turns has been a fan of kindness.org, a Web site where you can find inspiration for good deeds to perform and record the acts of kindness you do, inspiring others in a virtuous cycle. In fact, one of the Good Turns we highlighted late last year was one that we first spotted on the site. So when we saw they’d released the results of their first kindlab study last week, naturally our curiosity was piqued.

Their research confirms what those who do Good Turns on a regular basis already know: That performing acts of kindness increases the well being, happiness, positive outlook and connection to others in the person performing those acts, not just in those that receive them.

Maybe that’s why a good deed is generally thought of as an act of service that asks nothing in return: because those that do them receive all the thanks they need, in the form of the increase in happiness that being kind brings. If you make kindness a regular practice in your life, that feeling is familiar. But it’s interesting to know that it’s quantifiable as part of what appears to be a methodologically rigorous study on the part of kindlab.

Not only do acts of kindness increase emotional well being and positive social emotions, but doing more acts of kindness leads to a greater increase

For the study, kindness.org enlisted 691 participants from 39 countries to engage in acts of kindness for seven days. Some participants were asked to be kind of strangers, some were asked to be kind to family and close friends, some were asked to be kind to themselves, and some were asked not to be kind but to observe other people carrying out acts of kindness. The study looked at questions like whether being kind to family and friends might boost well being more than being kind to strangers? Does acting kind boost well being more than observing kindness? Which of these types of kindness have the most effect?

The results may not surprise you, but according to kindness.org, no previous study has investigated such questions. Kindlab was able to measure changes in well being, and determine that not only do acts of kindness increase emotional well being and positive social emotions, but doing more acts of kindness leads to a greater increase.

Kindlab apparently has more such studies in mind for the future. We look forward to their results, but for now we’re pleased to see that there appears to be an empirical basis for the claim we make here each week: that being kind and performing good turns is one of the best ways to make the world a better place. It’s official.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chloe Muro)

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