Committing acts of kindness increases and sustains happiness and well-being. Kindness improves health.
Volunteering to reduce suffering and improve others’ lives has been found to increase physical health, life satisfaction, and sense of purpose and meaning. Acts of altruism — such as giving to friends and family — decreases stress and enhances mental health. Volunteering to help others after trauma and adversity increases self esteem, empowers, and improves overall health.
Studies have shown that adolescents who volunteer in their communities have higher future aspirations, better self-esteem, and increased motivation in school. College students told to perform five acts of kindness per day (for example, holding the door open for a stranger; smiling and saying hello) reported feeling significantly happier than a control group — and the positive feeling lasted for many days.
When we help others, we realize we can make a difference, and this increases confidence in our ability to create positive change. Performing acts of kindness bolsters self-regard, positive social interactions, and charitable feelings toward others and the community. Perhaps most importantly, altruism arises from feelings of empathy—caring about the needs and welfare of others. Empathy is basic to the human condition: the interconnectedness among us, the fact that we are social animals, and the prosocial morality that guides our actions.