Of course you should be nice every day, but today, pay particular attention. November 13 marks World Kindness Day, created to inspire you to spend 24 hours doing something for others and spreading positive vibes. The World Kindness Movement—a global coalition of 25 nations that aims to make the world a nicer place—introduced the holiday in 1998. (Who knew the whole world was involved?)
Besides uplifting others, research has shown that kindness is an effective way to enhance your own happiness and it’s a tool that works across all cultures. Plus, it has both short- and long-term effects. “You immediately feel good about doing something for someone else,” says Acacia Parks, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Hiram College in Ohio and chief scientist of Happify, an app featuring activities and games designed to help you overcome negativity. “The other side of it is that the people you do nice things for will probably return the favor, they’ll have more positive feelings toward you, and you’ll strengthen your relationships—that makes you a more pleasant person in the long run.”
The trick to gaining smile-inducing benefits that last is to go above and beyond your usual niceness, says Parks. Always telling a coworker you like her boots or hair, while sweet, won’t quite cut it. Instead, perform five random acts of more extraordinary kindness. That might include paying for your pal’s coffee, putting a few quarters in someone’s parking meter that’s about to run out, sending a note to your friend across the country, donating to an animal shelter or baking cookies to share with the office. Carry this task of finishing five extra-kind deeds beyond November 13—shoot for once a week—and you'll probably sense that your feel-good emotion soars.
For more thoughtful ideas, visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s page. And for other ways to boost your happiness, like learning to practice more gratitude and being more compassionate, download the Happify app.
Now go out and spread kindness in your community, and share what you did on social media using #WorldKindnessDay.