Everyone might wish to be happy all the time, but that’s just not realistic. After all, life has a way of throwing us a few curveballs. A relationship that didn’t go the way we planned. Yesterday’s best friend simply…isn’t anymore. Not getting that job offer or expected promotion. Getting a poor response to something that we had worked really hard. The passing of a loved one.
These are all things that everyone goes through at one time or another, but, when they happen to us, knowing that others have experienced the same things doesn’t help the upset go away. We still hurt.
Taking Responsibility for Our Own Happiness
Eventually, though, we can choose to take matters into our own hands. Yes, we need to acknowledge the loss or being upset, but, when we’re ready, we can take steps to find the way back to our own happiness. Using scientifically proven strategies that can raise personal happiness levels is one way to reach this goal. Understanding that we are responsible for our own happiness is important. While contentment or pleasure may come as the result of what someone does for or to us, it must be understood that at the end of the day, we are the ones who can control our attitudes, outlooks, and mental states.
Making the commitment to perform random acts of kindness for both people we know, or complete strangers, puts us in charge of ourselves.
Why Random Acts of Kindness Work
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, completed research that shows completing five acts of kindness in a single day each week “makes you feel happier because it makes you think more highly of yourself and [you] become more aware of positive social interactions.” Adding variety to the acts you complete ensures that they don’t become routine in nature.
So, just imagine:
• You’re feeling blue but need to complete some work on the computer. As you get started, the first email you decide to send is to a co-worker to say thank you for how they help you do a better job each day.
• You’re bored and can’t think of anything special to do. You call a friend who has a lot going on right now (probably a new baby, family health issues, a person recuperating from a surgery) and run some errands for him.
• Your friend has experienced a loss in the family, and you like creating scrapbooks and photo albums. You decide to gather pictures and stories from her friends and relatives, and create a keepsake highlighting sweet memories of her loved one.
• You decide to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or commemorate Veteran’s Day by dropping off a basket of goodies, or writing notes that you’ll deliver to a retirement home.
Enjoying the Happiness You Created
After following through on activities that help others or make them feel appreciated, you will soon find that your focus has shifted from yourself to others. You will not only feel good about what you have done, but will have the added benefit of sharing in their joyful responses and appreciation of your thoughtfulness.
You will discover that you have not only helped others, but you were able to find a path to greater for yourself.
Care to give it a try?
Photograph courtesy of Nina Strehl.
Article first published on Sivana.