Tag Archives: kindness

Be a Kindness Sniper

Have you ever experienced a bad day, where out of the blue someone said or did something nice for you and it brightened your day?  

Whether they be few and far between, or regular occurrences, most people have had experiences like this.  An unexpected kindness, perhaps at a time when it is most needed, that lifts you up and gives you the strength to go on. It’s a pretty cool experience, right?

What if instead of receiving that experience, you were to give it? 

I have a little bias that goes something like this: We are not here on earth to just receive but to give.  The interesting twist on this – and science will back me up – is that giving has far more benefits to you personally than receiving.

So, add this short little workout to your daily routine:

Kindness Sniper Exercise.

  1. Pick at least one person (your “target”)
  2. Pick a time when they would not be expecting to hear from you
  3. Send them a short, positive message (The “shot”. it can express a compliment, share something you appreciate about them, congratulate them on an accomplishment, share an uplifting quote you think would be meaningful to them, etc. Be creative and genuine.)

That’s it.  You can communicate by email, text, phone, social media, old school letter, or whatever.  It only takes a few minutes of your time and can mean the world to the person you send it to.

Try it every day for a week (a different person each time) and see what happens.

 

Feel free to share your experiences below.  Did you try it? How was your experience?

7 Simple Science-Tested Ways to be Happier

Being Happy is Cool

You know, being happy feels pretty cool.  Most people would like some more happiness in their life.  It doesn’t take some long, spiritual quest (though you can if you like).  You can have more happiness in your life by doing a few simple things.  Here are 7 ways that smart people have known for centuries and science has now confirmed that you can be happier in your life.

Move Your Tush

Physical activity, including formal exercise, can help you be happier.  Exercise increases endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals and reduces stress hormones.  It improves learning and mental clarity, and the mood effects can last up to 12 hours.  Just 20-30 minutes of exercise a day can provide tremendous benefits to your physical and mental health.  Some studies even suggest you can get measurable benefits from just 7 minutes of formal exercise per day.

Trade the Gimmes for the Thankees

Gratitude is a great happiness booster.  Research shows that feelings of gratitude block toxic, negative emotions, increase resilience (making it a fantastic stress guard) and provide a higher sense of self worth.  Making gratitude a habit can be easy.  One simple method is to keep a gratitude journal.  Each day sit down and list all the things you are thankful for.  Don’t just regurgitate your previous list; find something new each day. Another way to practice gratitude is to express it to someone else.  The handwritten thank you note may be a dying art, but that doesn’t mean you can’t send an email or text, make a phone call or actually speak to a human face-to-face to express your thanks for something they have done.

Be Nice

According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the receiving the kindness.  Kindness and altruism – giving of yourself to others – enhances happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, and physical health, and reduces depression.

Say Ohm

Meditation is beginning to see the widespread acceptance it deserves.  Far from being some esoteric magic, meditation has clear effects on health and well-being.   Meditation has been shown to improve brain functioning and focus, reduces stress and anxiety, and increase the sense of peace and well-being.  There are different types/practices of meditation, such as mindfulness and compassion, which each have different effects.  Find a style of meditation that works for you.  For an easy starter, try this simple 7 minute meditation.

Trick Your Brain with a Smile

It is possible to trick your brain into being happier.  You can do it with a simple smile.  As smart as your brain is, it can’t tell the difference between a real smile and a fake smile, particularly if you let the smile reach your eyes.  The brain reads that physical state and thinks, “I must be happy about something” so it becomes happier.

Sing Along With Bobby (McFerrin) or Pharrell

(Almost) everyone knows that music has a powerful effect on mood.  One way it does this is by triggering the release of dopamine, which is associated with feelings of reward.  To really make music an effective happiness booster, you need to tell yourself the music will make you happy.  Actively try to “lose yourself” in the music.  Humans are predisposed to rhythmic movement – you feel happier when moving to the beat – so don’t be afraid to get down and boogie!

Give Someone a Hug

Touch produces oxytocin – that awesome brain chemical associated with bonding and relationships.  Humans need relationships – we feel more secure and happy when we have them.  A (non-offensive) touch, even from someone who is not close to you, can increase that sense of happiness and reduce stress.  The same effects can come from shaking hands, a high five, a pat on the back, getting a massage, more intimate relations, even rubbing your own feet.  I do not recommend hugging random strangers.  That could get you arrested (or a punch to the face), which would be counterproductive to your happiness.

Here are a few other resources you might want to check out.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good/  Robert Emmons

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/13/what-neuroscience-can-tea_n_5268853.html

http://www.pnas.org/content/103/42/15623.abstract

http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/dunn%20aknin%20norton.pdf

http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/wp-content/themes/sonjalyubomirsky/papers/LSS2005.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11467248

http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Revolutionary-Science-Exercise-Brain/dp/0316113514

http://my.happify.com/hd/happiness-may-be-just-a-tight-squeeze-away/

Anik, L, Aknin, L.B., et al (2009) Feeling good about giving: The benefits (and costs) of self-interested charitable behavior

10 Magical Effects Music Has On the Mind

Sibold, J.S., Berg, K.M. (2010) Mood enhancement persists for up to 12 hours following aerobic exercise: a pilot study.  Perceptual and Motor Skills.

Hyde, A.L., Maher, J.P., Elavsky, S. (2013) Enhancing our Understanding of Physical Activity and Wellbeing with a Lifespan Perspective.  International Journal of Wellbeing.