Being happy and being kind are two things we often strive to be in life. Sometimes we don’t realise that the two are very closely linked. Doing good deeds can bring untold amounts of happiness; both for the recipient and the benefactor. Nobody loses when it comes to kindness.
Few people make the connection between doing good deeds and personal happiness, and even if they do, fewer still are solely motivated by this. So why do people do good deeds? Here’s what I believe drives us to make good things happen and the positive effect it can have on our lives. I’ve had a little help from Sonja Lyubomirsky, a notable psychology professor, who offers some incredible insight into human happiness and what motivates us to be kind.
- Innate moral responsibility.
We’re all born with a conscience that guides us towards the path of goodness and kindness. Sonja believes that we are all working towards becoming our ‘best possible self’ and that positive action (including kindness towards others) is crucial in increasing well-being. This means that we often do good deeds unconsciously because it’s simply in our nature to want to do so. It’s also a strong need within us.
Unfortunately, the many distractions and selfish nature of our modern society can cause some to drift away from our doing good. It’s important to remember, though, that nobody is completely good – or bad, for that matter.
2) It feels good!
It’s as simple as that. As I said before, by acting positively and helping others, we also get something in return: good vibes! If you sneak a peek at anyone’s bucket-list, you’re almost certain to see something about finding life-long happiness or discovering a deeper meaning in life. Doing good and helping others can have an enormous impact on our sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Therefore, it’s safe to assume people do good deeds because it feels nice. Sonja agrees that this is a strong motivator as her findings suggest that, ‘happiness can often come as a by-product of doing good deeds, helping others and believing the world is a better place because of it.”
3) Good Karma
Whether or not you believe in karma, the truth is that whatever you put out into the world, you’re bound to get back. You reap what you sow! Many of us understand this and endeavour to plant the seeds of love and kindness so they may enjoy a lifetime of these things in return. Ever heard of the expression, ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’? It couldn’t be simpler, guys!
4) Increases your social network.
Who has ever heard of a kind, generous person who doesn’t have a great deal of friends? People who do good deeds radiate ‘prosocial behavior’, according to our happiness expert, Sonja. This means that their kindness propagates across their social network, which motivates them to carry on their positive action and improves the quality of their social interactions. Doing something nice for someone will endear them towards you and may even prompt them to help you out in return. It’s all about paying it forward and making others feel good.
5) It helps you grow as a person.
Many people realize that this prosocial behavior can aid personal growth enormously. For example, getting involved with an international aid charity may open your eyes to what it’s like for those who live in developing countries. You will become more culturally and emotionally aware and have a better understand of the world you live in. Working in a homeless shelter may make you more grateful for all you have: a warm bed, nutritious food and a roof over your head. Sonja has done a great deal of research in how being grateful can lead to increased and lasting happiness. She believes that gratefulness can ‘change the way you regard your life [and the] pleasant but constant things you encounter, such as a beautiful tree outside your window, a good-natured colleague and a helpful coworker, your favourite local restaurant, or your best friend.’ It’s an easy way to add meaning and purpose to your life.
Overall, the message we can deduce – from Sonja’s research, as well as from analyzing our own experiences – that nothing negative can come from doing good deeds. It’s mutually beneficial and can have significant and unexpected results. It’s also true that we’re not perfect, yet we can always strive to be better at any stage of our lives. It’s never too late to dig deep and rediscover the goodness within! If you’ve ever thought: ‘what’s the point of everything?’ and struggled to find an answer you’re happy with, why not try finding fulfillment in helping others. Make your main goal in life to do everything you can to leave the world a better place than how you found it. Start today your good deeds mission today. There’s no time like the present!
Before you go… Sonja has a task for you.
Try and find 20 minutes in your day to relax and be alone. Take the opportunity to think deeply and explore your inner self.
Grab a pen and paper and do your best to answer the following questions:
- What is your definition of happiness?
- What motivates you to be kind?
- What might get in the way of you doing good deeds? How can you change this?
- What are you grateful for?
Be kind and be happy, everyone! Peace out.
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