Even though they often enhance happiness, acts of kindness such as giving a friend a ride or bringing food for a sick family member can be somewhat rare because people underestimate how good these actions make recipients feel, according to new research from The University of Texas at Austin.
The study by UT Austin McCombs School of Business Assistant Professor of Marketing Amit Kumar, along with Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, found that although givers tend to focus on the object they’re providing or action they’re performing, receivers instead concentrate on the feelings of warmth the act of kindness has conjured up. This means that givers’ “miscalibrated expectations” can function as a barrier to performing more prosocial behaviors such as helping, sharing or donating.
The research is online in advance in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
To quantify these attitudes and behaviors, the researchers conducted a series of experiments.
In one, the researchers recruited 84 participants in Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park. Participants could choose whether to give away to a stranger a cup of hot chocolate from the park’s food kiosk or keep it for themselves. Seventy-five agreed to give it away.
I have suggested practicing random acts of kindness as one of the techniques of being a happy person. To the extent a person is eating to assuage feelings of unhappiness, this can also help with weight control. Here is a non-random act pointed specifically at yourself.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation suggested that the next time you feel hungry from a snack to skip the soda, chips or candy and eat a healthy snack like a piece of fruit, granola bar or some veggies which, not incidentally, also have fewer calories than junk foods. This is a simple way to be kind to your body. It’s also a great way to get the energy you need to pay full attention at school and work or enjoy yourself in other activities outside. Be kind to your body and eat healthy snacks.
Some of the benefits of healthy snacking include keeping your energy levels even. The refined sugar in junk foods leads to a false feeling of more energy, or sugar rush. The downside of this is a crash when it wears off. Instead, eating healthy snacks keeps you productive and happy all day and more available to help others. Continue reading →