Monday, May 30, 2016

How to be Happy

To be happy be kind to others. What goes around comes around - and with kindness it really does. Research shows that being kind to others increases our own levels of happiness as well as theirs. What's more it has a knock-on effect - kindness is contagious, so it makes our communities nicer places to be.

Recent research into brain functioning has confirmed that we are hard-wired for love and compassion. So it's not all chasing about individual success - our communities and society flourish when people look out for each other.

When we're kind to people we know it strengthens our connections with them and provides a source of support. Research shows that we may benefit from giving support more than those receiving it - and we're also more likely get support in return when we need it. This may not be like-for-like support, or even from the same person, but being kind to others builds a wider support network which increases well-being all round.

Doing kind things for strangers helps build co-operation, trust and a sense of safety in our communities. It also helps us to see others more positively and empathise with them. These are the foundations of a thriving local community and a flourishing society - one which builds well-being all round.

Kindness can be as simple as a smile, a thank-you or a word of encouragement.  It's a way of connecting, even if only for a brief moment, with those we pass in our daily lives. It doesn't have to cost anything or take much time - what's important is that it's an act of genuine care and thoughtfulness for another person. There are lots of ideas below and throughout this website.

Kind acts can be spur of the moment, like when we notice someone in need. For example, we might give up our seat on the train or pick up and return someone's glovewhen they drop it. Opportunities to be kind pop up all over the place - like handing on a newspaper we've finished reading, letting someone take our parking space or passing on an unused ticket.

Kind acts can also be thought through in advance - planning to do something for a friend, neighbour or loved one or because we want to spread some daily joy. There are unlimited ways to be kind to others - we only need to keep your eyes open and pay attention to those around us to start seeing opportunities to help.

To be kind, it's important for us to be aware of the people around us - and to notice their needs and feelings. We all have an innate compassion but sometimes it takes bit of time for us to tune into it. As the Dalai Lama says: "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible"
1.   Plan for kindness - Do some thinking about what you might do to spread some kindness - then you're more likely to spot opportunities when they come up. Make yourself a list of small actions you could take in your daily life - they don't have to cost any money at all. Think about people you know and others that you pass byin the course of the day. What could you do today or tomorrow? What do you feel drawn to doing? There are lots of ideas below to get you thinking.
2.   Have a kindness day - On a particular day, perhaps once a week, try to perform at least 5 different acts of kindness for different people. Make these things that you wouldn't ordinarily do. Afterwards, think: How did you feel after you did each act? How do you feel at the end of the day? You could also do this as a challenge with friends and get together in the evening to talk about what you got up to. Go on spread a little kindness!
3.   Do it together - Try to think about kind things you could do with friends, family or neighbours. You can swap ideas and support each other. Doing new things together helps build connections, which also increases happiness, so it's a win all round. If you've got children, get them thinking about what they can do too. Ask them what kind acts they gave or received that day - they might share some lovely stories with you!

Here's a list of 10 suggested acts of kindness to get you started:
·       Give up your seat
·       Hold a door open for someone
·       Give a (sincere) compliment
·       Make someone laugh
·       Give someone a hug
·       Take time to really listen to someone
·       Let one car in on every journey
·       Make someone new feel welcome
·       Help someone who's lost

·       Have a conversation with a stranger

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