Remember the golden rule? It goes a little something like this: "Treat others as you would like to be treated."
You most likely learned it as a child from a teacher or parent. But what if we told you this rule extends far beyond sharing your Barbies with your little sister or saying please and thank you?
Even as an adult, simply treating others with the same kindness you would hope to receive makes you feel happier and more grateful.
A Japanese study conducted on 175 college students found that kindness and happiness are very closely linked. By simply asking the students to count every act of kindness they performed for a week, researchers found that students felt happier. The more kind acts each student reported, the happier they felt. The study concluded that "kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories."
The same study found that as kindness and happiness increase, so does gratitude. When you feel grateful for someone else's kindness, you're more likely to practice kindness in your daily life. In turn, this boosts your happiness and the happiness of those on the receiving end of your kindness.
At the end of the day, practicing kindness makes you happy, which makes you grateful, which makes you happy all over again. What does this all mean? Practicing kindness creates a continual cycle of happiness.
Treating others with kindness doesn't necessarily mean spending all of your time volunteering for charities or adopting homeless animals, either. Being kind can simply mean performing random acts of kindness — holding the door open for someone, thanking the bagger at the supermarket or buying the coffee of the person behind you in line. You can even practice kindness while shopping — certain brands like This Bar Saves Lives donate a portion of their profits to charity or participate in other social giving campaigns.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is dedicated to spreading the word about these tiny actions that can have huge impacts on others' lives. Reading a few of the stories on their site really shows the power of kindness — even taking the time to talk to someone new could be life-changing.
Once you start practicing kindness, you will be amazed by the infectious happiness it produces. Slowly but surely, kindness will become a part of your regular routine, until you no longer have to remind yourself to practice it. You won't even think of it consciously any more — you'll simply be kind to others because it makes you happy.
Try giving others your kindness, and feel your happiness grow.