Kindness and Altruism

We talk a lot on Wakey about how to manage difficult thoughts and emotions. This week we are talking about how to capitalize on positive experiences and to generate them when we need them. We can start doing this by building up habits where we consciously pay attention to positive experiences, or act in a kind and compassionate way towards other people.

Our topic this week is kindness and altruism. We've talked before on Wakey about how achieving goals and engaging in enjoyable activities makes us happier - but there's also evidence that engaging in acts of kindness towards others is also great for wellbeing.

Professor and altruism author Elizabeth Midlarsky has identified numerous benefits of altruism including:

  • Social integration

  • A sense of competence and usefulness

  • An increased sense of meaningfulness and value

  • Distraction from one’s own troubles

According to the principles of Compassion-Focused therapy, connection and closeness to others also counteract feelings of threat and anxiety which may make us feel tense and physically unwell.

Try the challenges we set Chris and Ginger and this week and note how they make you feel:

1. Choose a conversation each day where your main goal in the conversation is to communicate a kind attitude to the person you are talking to. Even if the conversation is a difficult one - it doesn't matter if it's with a partner, a colleague, or a guy walking his dog. Your main goal is to make the person feel your kindness. Tell us on social media how it felt.

2. Just like last week - notice those moments that feel good, where you are momentarily happy or you notice something beautiful. But this time, share that feeling. You can tell a person about it - or just message them to share that you were thinking of them, or that you remembered something nice about them. Tell us what happened and how it felt.

3. Try the same thing when you're feeling down. Reach out and tell someone something nice about them, or that you were thinking about them. Note how you felt afterwards.

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