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Kindness + Gratitude = Happiness

May 15, 2011

By Dawn Knight, Western Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Now, I am not a betting person – well, unless I am sure to win, or course – but, I bet that performing acts of kindness can increase your happiness.  I also bet that appreciating life’s simple pleasures (a.k.a. Gratitude) can double that happiness.

I don’t believe that happiness is necessarily a reflection of what happens TO you.  I bet that as you change actions, behaviors, and thoughts from the negative to the positive, you might exude happiness coming FROM you.  In turn, you reap the benefits on how others perceive, respond and react to you.  Plus, it’s catching!  It’s hard to be nasty when someone is treating you with kindness. 

So, a few months ago, I had a “Dah-hah moment”…yes, similar to Oprah’s “Ah-hah moment” but I wanted to make it mine – hence the ‘D’.  I digress.  Anyway, I found myself walking away from different situations where I didn’t feel terrific about the experience – whether it was at work, home, with friends, where-ever.  At first, I thought it was ‘the others’ that were making me feel that way.  It wasn’t.  I was making me feel that way.  My Dah-hah moment was that I wanted to always walk away proud of how I acted, treated, and communicated with those around me.  I think that means treating others with kindness, politeness, and respect – not because they are being nice necessarily, but because I want to be nice.  Honestly, I find that I’m a happier person since that moment.  This also brought a feeling of gratitude about more things. Flipping the toggle switch caused my eyes to look at things differently – not that I wasn’t appreciative or happy before – I just see more things that deserve my gratitude.  It just feels good overall.

To me:

Over the weekend, I received the nicest (and unsolicited) e-mail from a co-worker.  She took time out of her day to outline things that she loves about our friendship and me as a person.  It was random.  It was kind.  It made me happy.  I was speechless – and that is hard to do!  It made me thankful.  She probably doesn’t even realize how that made my day!  My week!

From you:

Commit Five Acts of Kindness: Bring in your neighbor’s paper, smile at a stranger, offer someone your place in line, share your lunch… I bet you’ll have a measurable increase in happiness.

Count Five Positives: Good weekend weather, a friend’s improved health, a rosebush in bloom, a nice email from a friend…. At the end of each week, write down five things you’re grateful for.

Thrive where you can….

Dawn Knight, Western Regional Director: AZ, WA, OR, ID, NV, CA, WY and ND

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