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30 Ways To Be Kind and Be Happier

30 Ways To Be Kind and Be Happier

If you are kind, can it really make you happier?  Research projects have shown this is indeed the case. In one interesting study conducted by the Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia, participants were asked to recall spending a small sum of money either on themselves or to help someone in need. Those who donated that sum to charity or as a gift  remembered being much happier than when they had spent the money on themselves.

Researchers also found that once people got into the loop of being kind which was followed by a feeling of happiness, then they were more likely to do lots of other acts. It is a win-win situation. Psychologists call this the ‘helper’s high’. The exact biological process which links positive emotions to physical and mental well being is not fully understood yet. But the results are there for all to see!  So, if you want to feel happier, try some of these 30 ways of being kind. The more variety, the better.

1. Telephone a lonely person.

There is always one person in your group of acquaintances who is lonely and isolated. Try calling him or her, every now and again.

2. Hold the door open.

No matter who it is, hold the door open.

3. Change the toner or paper in the photocopier.

The next time you see a colleague swearing because the toner or paper runs out, step up to the plate. Do it with a pleasant smile and you have new fan.

4. Buy someone a coffee.

When you go to the coffee machine and see a colleague there, offer to buy her a coffee. If you are going to the water cooler, try offering to get someone else a cup of water while you’re on your way.

5. Help a disabled person.

Offer to push a wheelchair, help them across the street or fetch their medicines.

6. Any small change?

When you see all those coins which are a real nuisance, pop them into the next beggar’s baseball cap.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGOut1X5u0E

7. Offer to do the shopping.

Maybe there is an elderly person in your condo or someone who has had an accident. Offer to do the shopping.

8. Offer your place in the supermarket queue.

When you see someone getting anxious in the queue, let them go first.

9. Driving with kindness.

Lots of opportunities here. Waving a pedestrian across the street or stopping to let a car park.

10. Pay a few compliments.

Let your partner know how great they look today. Compliment a colleague or a friend on their new outfit.

11. Smile more often.

Try walking down a corridor at work and smile all the way there. You might be surprised at how many smiles you get back. It is infectious!

12. Express your gratitude.

Saying “thank you” and “please” are like the oil that lubricates the engine of human interaction. Works every time!

13. Reach out to a person in need.

Do you know someone who is ill or in hospital? Reach out by choosing one of these:

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  • Send them a text message
  • Phone them
  • Send flowers
  • Send a card

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato

14. Talk to a shy person.

Have you ever noticed how shy people struggle at social gatherings? Try a little act of kindness just by talking to them. You could be surprised at what you discover.

15. Donate to a disaster fund.

The next time you see a catastrophe on TV, note the charity donation number and send the SMS.

16. Teach your kids kindness.

If you are a parent or work with young people in a youth organization or at a school, raise awareness about the needy. Encourage them to give away their old toys and books which are still in good condition.

17. Be a modern Johnny Appleseed.

Be inspired and plant a few trees/plants/bushes/flowers in the neglected areas of your neighborhood. Watch the video below.

18. Stop complaining for a week.

This is probably the kindest act of all! Spreading negativity drags people down. Concentrate on the positives for a week. You will be pleasantly surprised.

19. Grow your hair.

Did you know that there are charities that make wigs from real hair for children who have suffered from hair loss during cancer treatment? If you have hair, let it grow and donate it to one of these charities.

20. Help a needy driver.

If a driver is in trouble, pull over and offer your assistance by phoning for help or helping to change a tire.

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21. Show affection.

Show people you love that you really mean it. A hug, a kiss, a gentle pat on the back or any sign of affection will be appreciated. If you want to give free hugs in the street, watch the video below. This has been watched by 75 million people!

22. Leave some money on the street.

Just a random act of kindness. Try leaving a banknote or a few coins on the street where a poor person can find them.

23. Invite someone to dinner.

Choose a co-worker or neighbour who you feel is rather lonely and offer them your hospitality.

24. Listen to someone who has a problem.

Being a good listener is a great sign that you can display empathy and warmth. Just listen and try not to interrupt with advice. There will be other opportunities for that.

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”- George Sand

25. Help a co-worker

When you see a colleague in real difficulty because of a scary deadline, a tyrannical boss or because they are suffering bereavement, lend a helping hand.

26. Contact your local shelter or soup kitchen

Ask them what they need most for supporting the needy and homeless. It could be anything from running an errand, shopping or baking a cake for them.

27. Give up a parking space.

Soar above the desire to be the first to get that parking space.

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28. Give away your favorite book.

You have read that book loads of times.Time to give it away. Leave it on the bus or train, with a note inside saying why you think it is a gem.

29. Send a depressed friend a funny video.

Laughter is a great tonic for depression. Choose your favorite funny video form YouTube and send the link by email.

30. Give flowers or food to an elderly neighbor.

Look at all the roses you have in the garden. Remember the leftover lasagne in the fridge?  Pack them up and give them to an elderly neighbour.

 

Try to do one or two of these acts of kindness every week. Change it up each time. Look at what you get for a few acts of kindness. Your mental and physical health will improve. You are less likely to suffer from heart disease, blood pressure, stress, and depression. It’s a bargain- go for it!

“Life’s most persistent and nagging question is ‘What are you doing for others?'”- Martin Luther King Jr.

Featured photo credit: KIndness-Mark Twain/ BK via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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