Research shows that kind deeds contribute to happiness

Key points

  • A recent study showed that relying on cooperation and altruistic behavior can increase your happiness.
  • Researchers say that kindness is often moderately linked to health and mental function, but it can have a significant impact on community health.
  • Certain types of goodwill are more powerful than others; those unplanned things tend to promote overall well-being.

A new study shows that behaviors based on cooperation, compassion, trust, and altruism can promote the well-being of individuals and communities, especially during COVID-19 Psychological bulletin.

Researchers’ research on 201 such behaviors classified as “pro-social” activities found that there is a moderate connection with improving physical and mental health, but the connection with social changes is more significant. The author of the study, Dr. Bryant Hui, a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong, said this may have a cumulative effect over time.

Not all acts of kindness are equal

Hui said that one of the biggest examples of pro-social behavior is voluntary service, but in meta-analysis, researchers found that unplanned and unorganized moments of helping others are often the most effective for health.

“Informal help is related to more benefits,” Xu pointed out. “This may be because spontaneity brings greater meaning to some people. For example, helping an elderly neighbor to carry groceries can provide both parties with a pro-social impetus. But if you participate in the volunteering to help the elderly neighbor It may feel more like an obligation, or even a chore.”

He added that this is not necessarily a disadvantage, and it does not mean choosing the goodwill of the moment instead of planned volunteer work. Hui believes that both types have their place.

He said: “In any case, pro-social behaviors should be a universal value and should be practiced as much as possible, especially now that COVID-19 and other struggles are taking place in the world.” “These behaviors are part of the common culture of mankind. . They bring us together, not only for ourselves, but also for everyone’s happiness.”

Meaning and happiness

The difference in helping others is not the only finding in the meta-analysis. The researchers also noted these findings about prosocial behavior:

  • Young people’s mood has improved more, while older people have reported an improvement in their impact on physical health.
  • Compared with men, women tend to have more connections between happiness and prosociality, especially in terms of mental function.
  • The effect of prosociality in creating meaning and self-realization is more obvious than in promoting happiness.

“One of the most prominent aspects of this research is the difference between happiness and pleasure, which is the purpose of comparison with happiness,” Xu said.

He added that while happy moments are important, they are often fleeting. It is this kind of happiness cultivation that when we feel more meaningful about what we do, it will have a cumulative effect on mental and physical health.

Bryant Hui, PhD

These behaviors are part of the common human culture. They bring us together, not only for ourselves, but also for everyone’s happiness.

— Bryant Hui, PhD

The first step towards good

Finding opportunities to give more to others in a planned and spontaneous way can help increase pro-social behavior. But it also helps to show kindness to yourself in the first place, suggests Dr. Christine Carter, a sociologist and senior researcher at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

For those who are now trying to balance many things-working from home, going to school, taking care of children, helping older relatives, overcoming economic and political uncertainties-putting in more effort (such as volunteering) may not They have the opposite effect. Welfare.

“It’s like the old saying,’You can’t drink from an empty glass,'” Carter said. “As you practice more compassion, kindness, and caring, make sure you feel that you are nourished and supplemented enough to give to others, especially now.”

She added that self-care is not all about bubble baths and large glasses of wine, although it tends to make people feel indulgent. In fact, this may be a daunting task. Some strategies to consider may be:

  • Build daily life
  • Keep exercising, or at least exercise more frequently
  • Create a space dedicated to you, especially in a multi-person family
  • Stick to bedtime rituals
  • Reduce your slack and take regular breaks

Carter says that when you implement such measures to pro-socialize yourself, it will be easier to extend them to others and reap the benefits in the process.

What this means to you

In the short term, you may only get a slight health promotion from pro-social behaviors, but as your behavior and the behavior of your neighbors help the community, this seeds of happiness may flourish in the future and bring more Big benefits.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.