Acts of Kindness Experiment
According to research from Harvard Business School , one of the most effective ways to make yourself happy is to spend money on others or to perform an act of kindness.
Performing an act of kindness will release Oxycontin, the same chemical our body produces when we hug or kiss a loved one. Not only do these acts of kindness make us feel good but they also have compounding effects, inspiring others to do good too.
This happiness halo affect is often overlooked, as we become self absorbed when times are tough and we fail to see that the solution to unhappiness is bigger than us.
Just as not all exercise is equally effective (an hour of swimming is more efficient at making you healthier than an hour of cricket) I believe that not all acts of kindness are created equally.
Despite being a happy person by nature, I am interested to see which acts of kindness result in the largest increase in happiness to myself and others.
The Experiment – Acts of Kindness
I have complied a list of 20 acts of kindness varying in cost/time/difficulty:
1. Smile at a stranger
2. Put a coin in an expired meter
3. Let someone merge into traffic
4. Give a stranger a compliment
5. Pick up a piece of trash
6. Donate Goods to a homeless shelter
7. Give your spare change to a homeless person
8. Buy the person behind you a coffee at your local coffee shop
9. Pay for the person behind you at the drive through
10. Buy a homeless person a meal
11. Plant a tree
12. Go out and collect a bags worth of trash
13. Volunteer for a charity today
14. Donate $50 to a charity of your choice
15. Leave a 40% tip
16. Leave an 80% tip
17. Leave a $100 tip
18. Give blood
19. Donate $1000 to a charity
20. Donate a kidney to a stranger
I am going to try and complete as many of these acts of kindness as possible and note my happiness level before and after each act to see which has the largest affect, as well as recording how long my new level of happiness lasted.
In order for this experiment to be as effective as possible, I need a cross section of data. So I am looking for your help!
All you need to do is choose one (or more) of the acts of kindness above and:
1. Make a note of your happiness level (on a scale of 1-10) before you do the act.
2. After you have completed the act of kindness, make a note of your happiness level (on a scale of 1-10 again)
3. Make a note of how long your level of happiness remained at this new level.
Then go to the following link and:
If you are interested in taking part in this experiment and are considering doing either of the two most demanding experiments (donating a kidney or donating $1000, please Email before hand: david at daviddesouza dot co dot uk)
PS. You shouldn’t be doing acts of kindness to make yourself happy, ideally you should be doing it for selfless reasons. However, I would argue getting into the habit of being kind and the resulting good deed is arguably more important than the inspiration for your actions.