Wanna Get Your Happy On? Break Out Your Writing Journal and Start Writing About Kindness
Wanna get your happy on? You know the best way to do that? Just go ahead and make someone else happy.
Think about it. You already know this! Whether it’s giving someone you love a meaningful gift or letting a stranger go ahead of you at the grocery store, you’ve most likely felt a little buzz of happiness over making someone’s day.
And if you don’t trust that little buzz, well, there’s science behind this. About a decade ago, researchers in Japan looked at the correlation between happiness and kindness. (And, just to be clear, gratitude is what we feel when we experience kindness ourselves; kindness is the act of being kind to others.) They found that happiness and kindness worked off of each other in a sort of benevolent circle. First, happy people are more likely to be kind than unhappy people. Second, counting (tracking) acts of kindness makes people happy.
Kindness makes you feel happy and feeling happy makes you kinder.
When we’re kind to others, our bodies register a physiological response. As explained in a piece at Psychology Today, kindness:
- Can release the neurochemicals that cause what’s known as “helper’s high.”
- Can release dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous opioids, all of which can reduce pain and make us feel, well, happier.
- Enhances the release of oxytocin, which is commonly called the “love hormone.” Oxytocin helps to strengthen our bonds with other people. Deeper, more meaningful relationships make us happy.
- Reduces stress which, hello, increases our happy feelings.
Doing acts of kindness for others also makes us feel connected with those people. And interconnectivity strengthens our sense of community and belonging, which is an important part of feeling happy.
Why Journal about Kindness?
Why not just go out and be kind? Why write about it?
Well, there are a few reasons.
First, tracking kindness is a terrific way to keep kindness on our radar and incorporate more of it into our lives. Just as a gratitude journal makes us more attuned to the things that we’re grateful for, a kindness journal or tracker makes us more aware of those moments of grace. And, especially if we have a goal of recording one (or more) acts of kindness daily, we’ll be more apt to take action. As Natasha Sharma points out in her piece over at yummymummyclub.ca: journaling about kindness “ultimately helps us change our mindset and behaviour, and therefore … the outcomes we create for ourselves.”
Second, because we’re wired for a negativity bias, negative stimuli has a bigger impact on us than positive stimuli does. It’s natural for us to focus on the bad stuff. But, by journaling about acts of kindness, you’ll learn to refocus on the best and happiest parts of your day.
Another reason to keep a kindness journal is to create a memory book to flip through when you need a little pick me up. Small moments of grace are easily forgotten unless we write them down.
There are basically two ways to go here. First, you could use a writing journal solely for recording moments of kindness. If you choose to go this route, a personal journal allows you the space to examine kindness in depth. Rather than just logging the bare bones of an act of kindness, you could also make notes about things like:
- the recipient;
- why you chose to perform that particular kindness for that recipient;
- the reactions of the recipient and/or others; and
- how you felt about it all.
Recording details will help tap into the happiness you felt about being kind, and will also provide a more vivid memory recall down the road.
Alternately, if you only keep a Bullet Journal® (aka Bujo), you can certainly incorporate kindness trackers and spreads into that journal. You might make a brief note about each act of kindness in a daily or weekly log. Alternately, you could also create a spread that lists the acts of kindness that you aspire to do. Kara at BohoBerry, for instance, created a list of 35 Acts of Kindness that she wanted to perform before age 35.
Don’t Forget to be Kind to Yourself!
Self-care is important! There’s no reason why you can’t be the recipient of your own acts of kindness. Treat yourself to a small gift (perhaps a new journal, like SohoSpark's Celtic cross journal)unplug and go for a walk, take the time to soak in the tub, or connect--in real life--with a friend. Wouldn’t you say it’s a reasonable goal to perform one act of kindness each day for a stranger; for a loved one; and for yourself?
I’ll leave you with this powerful thought from Janine at Write to be Healed:
Make a point every day to show love, kindness, and give the same to yourself. You’ll then attract the love and kindness you want to see in the world.