In this issue, we talk about the fourth exercise, "Practising Acts of Kindness", as suggested by Prof Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, "The How of Happiness".
Happiness behind practising kindness
Obviously, acting kindly often relieves other people of their distress, difficulties and sufferings. Practising kind acts also help one forget one's troubles, appreciate one's good fortune, and enhance one's confidence and optimism. There are researches that consider that being kind and generous would help one perceive other people more positively and friendly.
Even though the benefits of practising kind acts seem universal, Prof Lyubomirsky, however, considers that practising kindness requires a bit more careful consideration than simply having a helping heart. Timing is important. To start with, you can select the acts you intend to do, and decide how often and how much you will do. You can pick a day per week and on that day do one big act of kindness or three to five small ones. These acts have to be of a free choice and of value and joy to you. It may be easier to start at your home, workplace or community.
The second consideration is variety. Varying an act of kindness helps sustain your happiness. Try to vary what you have been doing, or to have regular contacts with different people, for example tutoring school children and visiting homes for the elderly.
Most people act compassionately and generously not for their own sake but primarily for the benefits of other people. However, a helping behaviour that is burdensome interferes with your life goals or affect your major functioning should not be considered the appropriate thing to do. Your kind acts should not, at the least, constantly bring you unhappiness.
Bear another caveat in mind: there are people who do not want help and we have to respect their decision.
Kindness has contagious effect
An act of kindness is not necessary a big one. A nice friendly smile or offering a helping hand to someone carrying a heavy load would make him or her feel good.
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