“Psychologists have found that the emotional benefits of compassionate acts are significant for the giver, whether or not the recipient is even aware of the act.”
– University of Rochester
Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, led a research team in a study designed to test a hypothesis put forth by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama. The researchers studied married couples to see whether “compassionate concern for others’ welfare enhances one’s own affective state.”
They found that givers benefit from compassionate acts, regardless of whether the recipient explicitly notices those acts. This was somewhat surprising, since they had predicted that recognition of the gift would have the greatest impact on the giver.
While this study was only of newlywed North American couples, we’ve all heard that it’s better to give than receive. With science backing it up, it’s time to add some more compassion and kindness to your life.
Too busy to do more, you say? Don’t have any extra cash? Not a problem, because these suggestions are simple, quick and free.
Express your gratitude.
I don’t mean just saying a perfunctory “thanks.” Tell someone important to you thanks for something on a deeper level, like “I appreciate how you’re always there for me.”
Think about who might want what you don’t.
Consider whether friends, family or neighbors might be interested in any of the items you no longer want. I don’t mean to push stuff off on them just so you don’t have to deal with it. I mean really thinking about it.
Did a friend rave over a print you don’t want any more? Neighbor’s child moving into a new apartment and might want your extra coffee maker?
Leave a loving note.
Put a sweet note on the bathroom mirror or in your loved one’s lunchbox.
Did you get good customer service at a restaurant or shop? Let a manager know.
Smile and say hello.
When you’re taking your morning walk or playing fetch in the park with your dog, smile and say hi to those you encounter.
Let someone in.
Invite someone with only a few items into the line ahead of you. Let someone into your lane while driving.
Give people the benefit of the doubt.
OK, this one maybe isn’t that easy. At least it’s free.
Do you have any tips for squeezing extra kindness into a busy day?
P.S. I had scheduled this post to go out last Friday, but the computer obviously had other plans. Sorry about that.