There is a connection between being kind to others and happiness, says UBC researcher

Today is World Kindness Day, and it turns out that being kind to others can be the key to our own happiness, says a psychologist.

Studies have shown a “causal relationship where when people behave in this generous, friendly way, they actually end up being happier themselves,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor and happiness researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“Honestly, I find it very reassuring that people have this kind of baked-in tendency to experience joy in helping others,” she told CBC’s. The early edition on Friday.

World Kindness Day traces its origins to Tokyo, where it was first introduced as part of the World Kindness Movement in 1998.

Now, nearly 30 countries around the world, including Canada, are part of the movement, marking the day in November.

Dunn said her happiness research is conducted by “changing the conditions that people face” and seeing the results.

In one experiment, researchers went up to randomly selected individuals on UBC’s campus, gave them either a $ 5 or $ 20 note, and asked them to spend the money at the end of the day.

Half were asked to use the money to benefit another, and the other half were asked to use the money to benefit themselves.

“Eventually, [the subjects] do not really know what the experiment is about. We just asked them about their day and asked them to rate how happy they felt, “Dunn said.

“What we saw in that experiment is that people felt happier after spending this money for the benefit of others than after using it to benefit themselves.”

Dunn said the study suggests that treating others with kindness is more effective at promoting our own happiness than treating ourselves.

The UNBC Club aims to make kindness an everyday thing

That is the purpose of a new student club at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Prince George campus.

Random Acts of Kindness Club was started by two students earlier this year and aims to make random acts of kindness an everyday event.

“We want more kindness on the UNBC campus,” said Nadia Mansour, co-founder of the club.

“Everyone goes through life’s movements, and we all go through something. I think you can never get enough kindness, and that’s what we’re here to do, just spread that positivity around campus and Prince George as a whole. . “

An exhibition board raising awareness about mental health at UNBC shows written notes on things that keep people going. (Posted by UNBC Random Acts of Kindness)

The club has about 15 members who participate in public demonstrations that promote mental health and kindness, as well as volunteer work with St. Vincent De Paul Society, a Catholic charity, once a month.

“The biggest thing is just to lead by example and we certainly always encourage all club members to go out and pay it forward,” Mansour said.

“Even I’m surprised at how much [the members] truly believe in the message of kindness. “

Afrin Begum is the other half of the club’s leadership duo, and she said she noticed that doing kind deeds contributes to her personal happiness.

“I certainly think it’s true that when you are kind, you feel a happiness,” Begum said.

“We just want to give back to the one who will take our kindness, basically.”

Being kind to ourselves is also important

At the same time, Dunn said that it is more important than ever to be kind to others – and yourself – during the pandemic, where many experience isolation and a break from their social circles.

“Being kind and helping someone else can in a way remind us how much we ourselves are capable of,” Dunn said.

“The kind of kindness that is perhaps most beneficial to ourselves is, in fact, about self-compassion … the same kind of gentle compassion that we would give to a cherished friend or perhaps a younger person in our lives that we care about. “

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