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Happiness and Kindness For Kids

Kids are happier when they regularly engage in acts of kindness towards others.   Multiple studies have shown how happiness leads to kindness and kindness leads to happiness.  Why are happiness and kindness linked?  What can kids (ages 9 through 12) do as acts of kindness towards other?

Why are happiness and kindness linked?

It is theorized that happiness and kindness are linked because both are focused externally.

A person who regularly engages in acts of kindness towards others is a person who likely sees him-/herself as connected to others, conceptualizes how s/he fits in the “big picture” and how his/her actions affect others, and is optimistic that s/he can affect others in positive ways.  Self-centered people often see themselves as autonomous, less connected to others.  They don’t see (or don’t care to see) how their actions affect others; they don’t conceptualize the “big picture”.  As a result, they are less aware of or responsive to how they can affect others in positive ways.

The skills or traits possessed by a person who regularly engages in acts of kindness towards others are essential for the characteristic (not fleeting) experience of happiness.  Happiness is a complex subject, but it can briefly be stated that happiness is most successfully achieved while pursuing some other objective.  People who pursue happiness by focusing on their own direct and immediate happiness (i.e., I like shopping, eating chocolate, sleeping, etc.) will not find as much success in that endeavor as people who pursue happiness by focusing on external, kindness-oriented objectives (i.e., volunteering for a worthy charity, care-giving for an elderly neighbor, etc.).

What can kids (ages 9 through 12) do as acts of kindness towards other?

All of the acts of kindness listed below assume permission from parents and other relevant individuals.

Help younger siblings with their homework, household chores, etc.

Help classmates with their studies or sports.

Volunteer to tutor a child in a younger grade.

Befriend a child who is socially isolated or ostracized.

Raise money for a worthy charity.

Donate outgrown toys to a worthy charity.

Weed the garden of the elderly or disabled neighbor.

Read aloud to the blind neighbor.

Bake cookies (with parental supervision) for someone in need.

Hold and comfort someone while s/he cries.

Adopt and nurture a shelter animal.

Pet sit for a friend or neighbor.

It bears noting that happiness is linked to regularly engaging in acts of kindness towards others.  Therefore, if a child merely performs one of the acts above, s/he may wonder why his/her level of happiness did not increase as a result.  The answer lies in the use of the word “regularly”.   Engaging in acts of kindness towards others must be committed to habit . . . the behavior must be exhibited regularly (with frequency).

By regularly engaging in acts of kindness towards others, kids can increase their level of characteristic (not fleeting) happiness.

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