Happiness Tip: Commit to Kindness | Dr. Christine Carter

Happiness Tip: Commit to Kindness


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One of the easiest and most powerful ways to feel happier is for us to do something nice for someone else. It’s also a great way to make the world better: Odds are, your kindness will radiate outward. Research shows that one person’s kindness has the ability to inspire

acts of kindness in others, which may in turn influence the actions of even more people.

Take Action: Smile at someone in an elevator. Tip outrageously, and give a dollar to every homeless person you pass. Offer someone else your seat on the bus, or that great parking place you could easily sneak into. Say something kind to someone who’s having a hard day.

What other ideas do you have for small ways we can “commit to kindness”? Inspire others by leaving a comment below.

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  • Glory

    Love people,hug people ,kiss people 

  • Daniel

    Taking time to talk to neighbours, fellow bus pasengers, colleagues at worl. Empathizing with them and offering whatever realistic help we can deliver

  • Denise Flora

    When I dry my hands in a public bathroom with a roll-type dryer I use my dirty towel to advance the roll for the next person so they can grab a clean towel right away.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      What a great idea!

  • Anonymous

    One year ago I made an aspiration to pay the toll for the car behind me each time I crossed our local toll bridge.  I don’t look to see who it is or if they react…but one woman leaned her head out the car window and blew kisses!  I just feel better hoping this tiny gift added some lightness to another person’s day.  I planned to do it for a year, but now I just can’t stop. 

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      love that!

  • Diana

    I suspect you’ve seen this already, but if you haven’t, you’ll love it:


    It’s about a woman whose birthday wish was to complete one random act of kindness for each year of her life. It’s wonderfully inspiring–in fact my friend celebrated her birthday on Monday just as this woman did. :-)

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I had NOT seen that – thank you so much for sharing! Very inspiring. Love how she included her kids.

  • Piers

    Please remember the members of our own families who we so often overlook. Recognise those small things that smooth our paths and overlook the pressures that try to make us react in a negative way.
    Children are especially important as their experience in life is so much smaller. Give them the opportunity to contribute and recognise them for it.

  • Liz

    Cook or clean for someone who’s ill, or has a new baby, or is just plain exhausted!

  • Aim620

    surprise someone with a little unexpected present!

  • lisa

    Hug someone for at least 20 seconds.

  • Mark @ SpreadKindness.org

    When you come to a stop sign at the same time as someone else, wave them through first. And when they wave back, wave back at them AGAIN, and smile :)

  • http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/category/photo/ Janine Kovac

    I find that I am at my most unkind when I’m driving. To counteract this I try to lett cars merge or slow down to allow cars to make left-hand turns onto busy streets.

  • Andy Carnahan

    Leave your change in a vending machine. Or even place your change in one as you pass by. This works especially well in payphones as the people who use payphones are generally not well off or are young children tryng their luck.

  • http://twitter.com/nonojojo JoAnna Klein

    One way I found happiness, and I guess it was through a sort of kindness, was starting a journal club at my university for research technicians, like myself, who often seek chances to learn and explore more science, but don’t have an outlet.  I’ve found that with every meeting, participants become more and more excited about researching topics and discussing them.  It makes the work week more interesting and provides an informative and fun social network.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I think expanding what you think of as kind, as you’ve done here, is important.

  • Jriele

    Hold a door open for someone. It’s old fashioned, but it does make people happy!

  • Melbelli

    Help a mom, even 5 minutes watching baby so she can, say, take a shower. Moms need friends to help.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      You can say that again.

  • Debbie

    This morning my 11 year old daughter told me how she held an umbrella for her friend who is on crutches. . . it sparked a great conversation about acts of kindness for others!  (Hi, Christine!).  Debbie

    • Trish1112

      This reminded me of a daily act of kindness my 8th grader performs when she arrives late to school. Rather than dashing in she helps a kid who is schlepping a French horn and all of his books by closing the trunk of the car, carrying the horn, opening the door withe her free hand, helping him store the horn in the music lockers, and THEN they both arrive at class together, late but very HAPPY!

  • http://www.midlifemixtape.com/ Nancy Davis Kho

    One of the most powerful New Year’s resolutions I ever made was that if I had a good intention, I should immediately follow through with it before I had time to talk myself out of it. Something like “I should offer to make her a meal” or “I should send a condolence card” or “I should send money to that charity” went from being fleeting thoughts to concrete actions, however small.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I love that New Year’s resolution. Did it work? Are you more likely to do the stuff?

  • Karamosco

    I enjoy the challenge of surprising someone with kindness. If I am interacting with someone in a store or doctors offie that just seems to be in a crabby mood, I will go out of my way to find something kind to say, something I have observed or appreciated about them.nthey can’t help but be a little more kind to me min return :)

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I also love the challenge of making a grumpy person smile.

  • Michelle Wyman

    Send a card (yes, by good old fashion US mail!) to someone you know who is having a difficult time or simply as a spontaneous act of kindness. I still keep hand written notes from my grandmother who has long since passed away. Her words of encouragement still touch me to this day. Notes and cards can be re read whereas emails are usually deleted.
    Michelle Wyman

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      that is very sweet

  • reader

    I was offered a seat on the bus today – which was sweet, even though I normally cycle to work so didn’t need to sit! But I am less persuaded by the idea of giving dollars to the homeless and tipping outrageously. I think we should leave the money part out of acts of kindness.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I think we all find acts of kindness that are right for us, but when I was a student scraping to get by, I felt especially grateful for the people who tipped outrageously…

  • Mjlopezfig

    Give unexpected compliments. See a mother treating her child well, say so. See someone who looks great, say so. Someone gives you the right away, thank them. Someone gives you their seat, thank them LOUDLY.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      a great reminder that compliments are a simple, easy, and free source of kindness…

  • Ladydoubtless

    When I’m having trouble relating to someone, I try to picture them as an infant — and somehow that kicks in my feelings of tenderness and kindness. 

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      great idea!

  • Mark Brucker

    One of the things I try to do is to teach people to fish, rather than just giving them a fish! So instead of just a nice word, also trying to help people learn to care for themselves better. So they have an ongoing benefit. Asking them questions about why they’re having a problem. Encouraging them to think about why they are having trouble sleeping. Why they’re feeling crabby. What might help them feel better…. Thanks so much for the great tips! 

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      wonderful way to think about things!

  • Maryewolfe49

    After years of struggling with unhappiness, it has occurred to me to stop fighting the current and float down the river of kindness.  It truly is a miracle within your own mind!  When you reflect happiness, people will mirror the same.  It helps turn other people’s bad days into good ones.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I agree: people mirror back your happiness and kindness. Emotions are pretty contagious!

  • Stephan

    There are plenty of ways to be kinder but what’s harder is to truly cultivate an other focused mindset, especially if you are self-centered. Join this guy’s weekly journey to being kinder on his blog http://52actsofkindness.com. Now that is one to commit to kindness!

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      Thanks for sharing this link! I read the “about” section and this guy’s kindness practice (who hilariously calls himself “self-centered bastard) looks worth following!

  • Sigmundjung

    What do you suggest I do when my emphasis on happiness is actually serving as something akin to spiritual bypass?  It’s something I personally struggle with and bear witness to over and over again in my life.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I’m not sure what you mean.

  • Andy Smallman

    Hi Christine! Great to see this posting of yours. More ideas can be found at http://kindliving.wordpress.com. And take a look at this 4 minute video of how we incorporate kindness and gratitude at the school I founded and direct – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdV07yd55IQ. –Andy Smallman

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      Yay! Hi Andy! Thank you for posting!

      • Andy Smallman

         Every time I get one of your newsletters I think to myself, “Christine and I should do something together.” Some day perhaps?

        • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter


  • Rosie Heart

    Winter in Maine can be long and cold. I leave a thermos of hot chocolate and a bag of home baked cookies in my mail box for my mail carrier and my newspaper delivery person.
     Also since I  am co-raising my two grandchildren full time, I write monthly notes to their teachers thanking each one for nurturing my grandchildren.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      Wow. That is very sweet!

  • Onealc01

    Invisible support to your significant other – a moment of giving without their knowing you’ve given

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      Sometimes it is even more powerful when they don’t know you’ve done something!

  • Eworksmassage

    Monitor the tone of your voice. So much kindness can be conveyed with how we say things to those around us.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      Another good example of a teeny tiny act of kindness that can make a HUGE difference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1035319830 Joe Avera

    Buy the drink for the person behind you at the Starbucks drive through

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I love all of these ideas. I just did something akin to buying someone coffee in a drive through, and it was pretty fun!

  • Phoebe Bode

    For that rude person at work?  Buy an extra muffin on your way to work and give it to him/her.
    Let that person behind you in line at the supermarket go first.
    Greet the clerk first and ask how he/she is doing today.
    Fix a fruit basket for your neighbor.
    When you go for a walk, always say, “Good morning” or “Good afternoon,” to someone coming toward you. And smile when you say it.
    Ask a mom with a baby in a stroller how old the baby is.  And tell the mom the baby is cute.  
    Offer a bottle of water to a mailperson or someone delivering a package.

    • http://www.christinecarter.com Dr. Christine Carter

      I like the idea of being especially kind to the rude people in your life…

  • Naomijcaldwell

    Pay the toll for the person behind you on the bridge.