THIRTEEN WAYS TO BE NICER
Even when you really don't feel like it. If the foot shaking under the table doesn't give you away, then the gum snapping certainly does: You're anxious. And however you cope with your anxiety -- or don't -- recent research reveals an all-natural fix: Being nice. Turns out that good deeds, or kind acts, can make socially anxious people feel a whole lot better. For four weeks, University of British Columbia researchers assigned people with high levels of anxiety to do kind acts for other people at least six times a week. The acts of kindness included things like holding the door open for someone, doing chores for other people, donating to charity, and buying lunch for a friend, says study author Lynn Alden, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. The researchers found that doing nice things for people led to a significant increase in people's positive moods. It also led to an increase in relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance. "People who engage in kind acts become happier over time," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Why? "When you're kind to others, you feel good as a person -- more moral, optimistic, and positive," she says. So whether you suffer from anxiety, or just need a way to boost your mood, here are 13 everyday ways to do something nice for someone -- and make yourself feel better in the process:
- Buy a co-worker her favorite Starbucks frap next time you stop for morning coffee.
- When you're driving, let someone merge into your lane.
- Offer to stay late and help cleanup at your friend's party.
- Smile and make eye contact with people in the grocery store.
- Pay the toll for the person in the car behind you.
- Baby-sit for your neighbor's kids while she takes a nap.
- Make small talk with the cashier at your dry cleaner.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line at the movies.
- Visit family members you haven't seen in awhile.
- Volunteer to run an errand for a busy co-worker.
- Drive a friend to the airport.
- Give a genuine compliment to someone.
- Over-tip your waiter.