10 Ways a Little Kindness Can Change Your Life

3 minute read
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

  • People are more helpful than you think. Expecting others to be selfish can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. How to be kind without getting taken advantage of? Tit-for-tat beat out all the other strategies. Too much trust is better than not enough. Trust people who are expressive.
  • People are nicer where the pace of life is slower. These are the best places to lose your wallet and these are the friendliest countries.
  • More often than not you can trust your gut to tell you who is a good person. In the workplace it seems kindness is less optional for men than women. Nice doctors heal you faster. The lower class is more helpful, trusting, charitable, and generous. On the other hand, it was the rich countries and the rich households that rescued Jews from the Nazis.
  • Lack of sleep can make you unethical and when faced with moral dilemmas we usually do what is easy, not necessarily what’s right. Religious people don’t tip better than nonreligious people. We actually avoid situations that would allow us to deceive others. Darkness increases dishonesty and your cellphone can make you antisocial. Envy is your default setting and dishonesty is contagious.
  • For tennis players and programmers it pays to be anti-social. If you get caught red-handed, smile. Being bad can sometimes be very good. Mean people make more money.
  • Compassion increases creativity. It’s hard to be compassionate because your brain is wired to see actions as deliberate. Music makes you more compassionate. Working together to achieve a common goal is an effective way to turn enemies into friends.
  • Marriage inhibits antisocial behavior in men. (It also makes male artists and scientists less productive.) You’re more fair with attractive people but attractive people are more selfish. Happy people and prideful people are selfish too.
  • Music does affect your behavior. Kind lyrics make you nicer. Going upward (like on an escalator) makes us more kind. A warm room makes people more social and friendly. Clean smells, mimicry, reading fiction, thinking about your childhood, teddy bears, seeing others do nice things and fear of gossip make us behave better.
  • On the other hand, feeling moral can lead you to act immorally. Showering can make you less moralistic and washing your hands does make you feel less guilty. “Paying it forward” works.
  • Being selfless can be the best way to be selfish. Guilting people works. Being nice can make you a much better negotiator. Ethical people are happier and happier people are better citizens but ethics books get stolen more than other books.
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    This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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