From the time we are children, we are taught to be kind to others. And while it is obvious that being kind is important when we are the recipients of the kindness, it turns out that being kind to others is not only good for them, but it is also beneficial to the person who is being kind. Altruism has been found to boost the immune system, with altruistic people having fewer major illnesses during their lives than non-altruistic people. In addition, longitudinal studies have found that an altruistic lifestyle in an important component of lifelong mental health. To achieve happiness, the Dalai Lama has said, “the main thing is deep mental satisfaction. That comes if you make yourself available to others and serve others. Basically, a human being is a social animal. So, if you create some short moment of happiness for people, you get deep satisfaction.”
One way to integrate altruism into your daily life is through random acts of kindness. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, Riverside and her colleagues developed a Happiness-Inducing Intervention to test whether asking people to “commit” five random acts of kindness would increase their positive emotions. In this 2006 study, researchers instructed groups of participants to perform five “acts of kindness” per week for six weeks. Participants’ happiness was measured before and after the six-week trial. Participants received the following instructions:
“In our daily lives, we all perform acts of kindness for others. These acts may be large or small and the person for whom the act is performed may or may not be aware of the act. Examples include feeding a stranger's parking meter, donating blood, helping a friend with homework, visiting an elderly relative, or writing a thank you letter. One day each week, you are to perform five acts of kindness. The acts do not need to be for the same person, the person may or may not be aware of the act, and the act may or may not be similar to the acts listed above. Do not perform any acts that may place yourself or others in danger.”
It was found that committing random acts of kindness made the participants feel happier, more connected to others, and more competent in their daily lives. Why not try Kennon and Lyubomirsky’s suggestion to “commit” five random acts of kindness per week, and see how it feels?

Author's Bio: 

Mary Kearns, Ph.D. is owner of StellarSelf, a wellness consulting practice. Mary offers workshops and presentations as well as personal coaching. She holds a Doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University and completed her coaching training through the Institute for Life Coach Training. In her work as a psychologist, Mary’s research has focused on the psychological factors influencing health and healthcare usage. She is the author of "Growing Toward Balance: Achieveable Ideas for Bringing Harmony to Your Mind, Body and Spirit" and "It's Your Time Now: What Will You Do With It?"