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What goes around comes around - and with kindness it really
does. Research shows that being kind to others increases our own
levels of happiness as well as theirs. What's more it has a
knock-on effect - kindness is contagious, so it makes our
communities nicer places to be.
Recent research into brain functioning has confimed that we are hard-wired for love and compassion. So it's not all chasing about individual success - our communities and society flourish when people look out for each other.
When we're kind to people we know it strengthens our connections with them and provides a source of support. Research shows that we may benefit from giving support more than those receiving it - and we're also more likely get support in return when we need it. This may not be like-for-like support, or even from the same person, but being kind to others builds a wider support network which increases well-being all round.
Doing kind things for strangers helps build co-operation, trust and a sense of safety in our communities. It also helps us to see others more positively and empathise with them. These are the foundations of a thriving local community and a flourishing society - one which builds well-being all round.
Kindness can be as simple as a smile, a thank-you or a word of encouragement. It's a way of connecting, even if only for a brief moment, with those we pass in our daily lives. It doesn't have to cost anything or take much time - what's important is that it's an act of genuine care and thoughtfulness for another person. There are lots of ideas below and throughout this website.
Kind acts can be spur of the moment, like when we notice someone in need. For example, we might give up our seat on the train or pick up and return someone's glovewhen they drop it. Opportunities to be kind pop up all over the place - like handing on a newspaper we've finished reading, letting someone take our parking space or passing on an unused ticket.
Kind acts can also be thought through in advance - planning to do something for a friend, neighbour or loved one or because we want to spread some daily joy. There are unlimited ways to be kind to others - we only need to keep your eyes open and pay attention to those around us to start seeing opportunities to help.
To be kind, it's important for us to be aware of the people around us - and to notice their needs and feelings. We all have an innate compassion but sometimes it takes bit of time for us to tune into it. As the Dalai Lama says: "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible"
1. Plan for kindness - Do some thinking about what you might do to spread some kindness - then you're more likely to spot opportunities when they come up. Make yourself a list of small actions you could take in your daily life - they don't have to cost any money at all. Think about people you know and others that you pass byin the course of the day. What could you do today or tomorrow? What do you feel drawn to doing? There are lots of ideas below to get you thinking.
2. Have a kindness day - On a particular day, perhaps once a week, try to perform at least 5 different acts of kindness for different people. Make these things that you wouldn't ordinarily do. Afterwards, think: How did you feel after you did each act? How do you feel at the end of the day? You could also do this as a challenge with friends and get together in the evening to talk about what you got up to. Go on spread a little kindness!
3. Do it together - Try to think about kind things you could do with friends, family or neighbours. You can swap ideas and support each other. Doing new things together helps build connections, which also increases happiness, so it's a win all round. If you've got children, get them thinking about what they can do too. Ask them what kind acts they gave or received that day - they might share some lovely stories with you!
Here's a list of suggested acts of kindess to get you started:
1. Give up your seat 2. Hold a door open for someone 3. Give a (sincere) compliment 4. Make someone laugh 5. Give someone a hug 6. Take time to really listen to someone 7. Let one car in on every journey 8. Make someone new feel welcome 9. Help someone who's lost
10. Have a conversation with a stranger 11. Pick up litter as you walk 12. Let someone in front of you in the queue 13. Read a story with a child 14. Tell someone they mean a lot to you 15. Let someone have your parking spot 16. Offer your change to someone struggling to find the right amount 17. Treat a loved one to breakfast in bed 18. Buy cakes or fruit for your colleagues 19. Invite your neighbour round for a drink and a chat 20. Offer to help with someone's shopping
21. Tell someone if you notice they're doing a good job 22. Pass on a book you've enjoyed 23. Say sorry (you know who to) 24. Forgive someone for what they've done 25. Visit a sick friend, relative or neighbour 26. Buy an unexpected gift for someone 27. Bake something for a neighbour 28. Pay for someone in the queue behind 29. Do a chore that you don't normally do
30. Help out someone in need 31. Offer to look after a friend's children 32. Offer to mow your neighbour's lawn 33. Donate your old things to charity 34. Give food to a homeless person and take time to talk with them 35. Visit someone who may be lonely 36. Give blood 37. Get back in contact with someone you've lost touch with 38. Organise a fundraising event 39. Volunteer your time for a charity 40. Plan a street party
Why Kindness is Good For You
Evidence that kindness can improve our lives
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Inspiring people to practice kindness and pass it on to others
Altruism and wellbeing in an age of austerity
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living
Practical applications of the Dalai Lama's spiritual values
Great Kindness Challenge
One day devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible
Greater Good Science Centre
Groundbreaking research into the roots of compassion, happiness, and altruism
Charter for Compassion
Transcends religious and ideological differences to encourage compassion for all
Portal dedicated to small acts of contagious kindness
Kindness in a Cruel World
New findings on altruism means "survival of the fittest" is no longer the answer
Born to be good
Demonstrates that humans are in fact born to be good not hardwired to be selfish
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
Guide to becoming a better human being, combining philosophy, theology and more
Emotional Intelligence Quiz
Take a short, fun quiz to see how well you can read other people's emotions
Visions of Compassion
Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature
Exploring how the arts can inspire kindness, community and social change
"We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with
- Mother Theresa
Do things for others
Giving is good for you
Altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in the brain and boosts happiness for us as well as the people we help. Studies have shown that giving money away tends to make people happier than spending it on themselves.
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