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World Kindness Day



On this World Kindness Day, Nov. 13, 2018, we take a look at some of the research showing how engaging in acts of kindness can benefit well-being. Engaging in acts of kindness is not only a good thing to do, but can actually help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, can improve workplace well-being, can be more beneficial to well-being than self-oriented actions, can reduce anxiety for socially anxious people, and can prompt others to engage in acts of kindness.

A review of 27 studies concluded that performing acts of kindness is similar in effect to other positive psychological interventions, such as mindfulness, in improving well-being. Acts of kindness, and other positive activity interventions such as gratitude and optimism, may help people with depression and anxiety, according to one study. In the study, benefits lasted through a 6-month follow up.

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A 2016 study compared doing good deeds for others with doing something for yourself. Study author S. Katherine Nelson-Coffey, Ph.D., and colleagues found that acts of kindness for others led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than self-focused behavior. They conclude that “people striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.”

Doing good deeds for others can also help relieve the anxiety for socially anxious people and allow them to more easily socialize with others, according to research from the University of British Columbia in Canada. In their study, researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three groups: undertaking acts of kindness, such as mowing a neighbors’ lawn; engaging in social interactions without doing good deeds; and a neutral control group. They found that participating in acts of kindness eased the anxiety of the participants and made it easier for them to engage in social interactions. The authors suggest that engaging in the acts of kindness may help people have more positive expectations of the interactions and more positive outcomes. If you’re doing something nice for someone, you’re more likely to anticipate and receive a positive reaction and less likely to focus on thoughts of rejection or negative reactions.

Acts of kindness can make a difference in the workplace also, even when the acts of kindness are assigned. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, assigned employees at a corporate workplace randomly to three groups: givers, receivers and controls. Over 4-weeks, givers practiced daily acts of kindness for an assigned list of receivers who were unaware they’d been chosen. They found that givers and receivers benefited in well-being in the short-term (weekly assessments) and longer term (after two months). After 2 months, the givers became less depressed and more satisfied with their lives and jobs and receivers became happier. In addition, they found that the givers’ acts inspired receivers to pay it forward with significantly more acts of kindness compared with the controls. The researchers conclude that practicing everyday acts of kindness “is both emotionally reinforcing and contagious.”

Getting Started


Some suggestions for getting started from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation:

  • Send an uplifting text to a friend or family member.
  • Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile.
  • Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine.
  • Go slightly outside of your comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile.
  • Share a compliment with a co-worker or friend.
  • Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Treat someone to a cup of coffee (a friend, stranger, or even yourself).

See more at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.


  • Trew, JL, Alden, LE. Kindness reduces avoidance goals in socially anxious individual. Motivation and Emotion. 2015. 
  • Nelson, SK, et al. Do unto others or treat yourself? The effects of prosocial and self-focused behavior on psychological flourishing. Emotion 2016, 16(6):850-61. 
  • Curry OS, et al. Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 76(2018), 320-329. 
  • Chancellor J., et al. Everyday prosociality in the workplace: the reinforcing benefits of giving, getting, and glimpsing. Emotion, 2018, 18(4):507-517. 
  • Chancellor J, Margolis S , Jacobs Bao K, Lyubomirsky S. Everyday prosociality in the workplace: The reinforcing benefits of giving, getting, and glimpsing. Emotion. 2018 Jun;18(4):507-51. 
  • Taylor CT, Lyubomirsky S, Stein MB. Upregulating the positive affect system in anxiety and depression: Outcomes of a positive activity intervention. Depress Anxiety. 2017, 34(3):267-280. Random Acts of Kindness Foundation


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Comments (1) Add a Comment

  • Rodrigo García

    A nice article, considering that people nowadays needs to be happy in their day by day so this may helps them to share the kindness that their receive to give them back to another person. Thanks for sharing! Best regards from https://aut�


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