Hey Everyone!! :-)
Thank you all so much for joining me again today for my latest musings on positivity. :-) Last time, I talked to you about the health benefits of having a positive outlook and being happy. Today, I'd like to talk to you about a little experiment I'm doing to try to increase my own happiness.
I've been doing a little research about what people can do to help increase their happiness. Obviously, there are the great big, life-changing, things that people can do, like completing an education, making a family, finding the perfect job, etc. Those things are great, if you can make them happen, but often succeeding in those areas is as much a matter of luck and good timing, as it is effort and talent. So I chose to focus on the smaller things, which an individual is more likely to have total, or near total, control over. Things like exercise, gratitude journals, and charitable work.
Actually, I went looking for the smallest, easiest, thing that would take the least amount of effort (because I'm horribly lazy ;-) ), and once again I found myself brought back to words. Words...such tiny, insignificant things, and yet so powerful. Often words have an amazingly strong impact on people, to help or harm, depending on which ones we choose to use.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that, when we use unkind words to describe people, we can make them feel inadequate, unintelligent, unattractive, and possessed of/by other negative attributes.(1) Amazingly, it's even possible to convince people of things that are less subjective, such as that they are physically dirty (ie: lacking in hygiene) and unsuccessful (regardless of the objective measures of success they may possess).(1) Conversely, compliments (even superficial ones) often make people feel better about themselves, those around them, their circumstances, and their choices.(2,5) When someone says something nice to someone else, it can even inspire the recipient of the compliment to make positive changes in their life to better reflect the words that were used to describe them!(2)
Another thing I found fascinating, was that when you do something nice for many people, they are more likely to want to do something nice for other people.(3) Also, people who are happy are able to increase their own happiness by doing something to make someone else happy.(4) So basically, when you feel good, you want other people to feel good, and it makes you feel even better to help them feel good. A positive feedback loop of positivity!! Sounds like a great idea to me! :-)
Towards that end, my experiment is to keep my eyes open for any opportunities to say something nice to someone and/or do some small thing to help someone every day. I'm going to try to keep track of these instances, and see if my mood at the end of each day positively correlates with the number of times I was able to make someone else feel good. If anyone else decides to do something similar, please say so in the comments and let me know if you've found this approach to be beneficial. I'd also love to hear everyone's thoughts on the topic! :-)
Thanks again to everyone for stopping by, and don't forget to check back each day for your latest dose of positivity. In the meantime, have fun!! :-)
1. Delgado, R. (1982). Words that wound: A tort action for racial insults, epithets, and name-calling. Harv. CR-CLL Rev., 17, 133.
2. Fea, C. J., & Brannon, L. A. (2006). Self-objectification and compliment type: Effects on negative mood. Body image, 3(2), 183-188.
3. Isen, A. M., Clark, M., & Schwartz, M. F. (1976). Duration of the effect of good mood on helping:" Footprints on the sands of time.". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34(3), 385.
4. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 361-375.
5. Seiter, J. S., & Weger Jr, H. (2010). The Effect of Generalized Compliments, Sex of Server, and Size of Dining Party on Tipping Behavior in Restaurants1.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(1), 1-12.