Increasing Happiness through Cultivating Kindness

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Do you have a genuine desire to help others and improve the world around you? Research tells us that people who demonstrate kindness through acts of altruism or volunteering on a consistent basis generally experience a higher life-satisfaction and even show fewer depressive symptoms. Whether you get involved through an organization or club as a volunteer, or simply reach out to a co-worker or friend who is struggling or lonely, caring and compassion has multiple benefits.

Certainly, our motive in volunteering is not just to make ourselves happy, but a sense of satisfaction and contentment is a welcomed outcome. Typically those who are required to volunteer (for a school assignment, college application, etc.) do not feel the same sort of satisfaction as those who are intrinsically motivated. A sincere desire to help others is one of the keys to experiencing a sense of contentment and well-being.

It’s difficult to give love if we don’t feel loved. Demonstrating a true compassion and love begins in our heart, when we recognize our own brokenness and need for redemption. When we know and receive God’s love, we are better able to pour out that grace-filled love toward others. John (the beloved disciple) put it this way, “We love because He first loved us.” As we draw close to Him and embrace His love, we can allow that love to overflow into a life of care and service.

Additionally, studies show that the recipients of acts of kindness who are encouraged to participate or cooperate in some way experience a greater level of happiness than those who simply receive the benefits with no participation. I found this research particularly interesting, since the parenting outreach I started several years ago invites parents to participate in the classes and empowers them to discover their own solutions, instead of simply being told what to do.  And yes I’d love for you to consider joining our team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative! For more information go to www.EngageParenting.com

So where do we begin? Prayerfully ask God to lead and guide you to a place where your gifts and talents can be used to help others. He has equipped each one of us with unique abilities to care and serve. The apostle John reminded us, “Let us not simply love in words or in speech, but in actions and in truth.” May we be faithful to step out of our comfort zone and into the lives of those who could use a helping heart.

Paper bag Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

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Next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. It’s the perfect time to join the team at Engage Parenting! Find out how at: Engage Parenting Volunteers

The Positive Power of Friendships

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Who are the people in your life that really know you? I’m talking about the ones with whom you have chosen to go deep and share your heart. You can count yourself blessed if you have even a handful of these “inner-circle” friendships in your entire lifetime.

Studies in positive psychology indicate that people who have one or more close friendships tend to be happier. The key word is “close” – not 300 Facebook friends, but rather a few close people in your life with whom you can share your feelings and enjoy activities together. It’s easy to feel lonely if your conversation only centers around impersonal topics. Real connections are felt on a deeper level where meaningful conversations take place.

In fact, sharing personal feelings with a close friend can play a major role in the relief of stress and even depression. To be sure, we don’t want to be that needy person who overshares and never cares about others. There is a beautiful balance of being vulnerable enough to share our own joys and sorrows, while on the other hand, caring for the needs of our friends and lovingly listening to their heart.

Studies also show that one of the best ways to enrich relationships and cultivate positive emotions is to express a genuine interest in what other people are saying and respond in an encouraging way. Dale Carnegie put it best when he said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Jesus went further to say, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved those around him with a grace-filled, servant-hearted love. He took a genuine interest in the needs of others as He walked this earth, and He continues to take a genuine interest in us.

How wonderful to know that we can have a real and personal relationship with Him! As we grow deeper in our love for Him, we tend to reflect His love in the friendships around us. May the relationships in your life, both with Him and with others, be a source of strength and joy to you personally.

 

This Blog is a part of my new series on “Increasing Happiness.” Each week we will look at studies on happiness and practical ways to experience it.

Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash