The Consistency of Kindness vs the Paradox of Hedonism

A few things reminded me of something I’ve been turning over in my head for a long time.

If you ever feel powerless, remember you have immense power over other people. A kind word or a nasty one can make or break someone’s day. Anxiety, depression, and a host of mental problems have been strongly correlated with feelings of powerlessness. A good way to fight them is make a point of complimenting someone else because it really gives you a feeling of empowerment to make a stranger smile. There’s nothing wrong in making yourself feel better by helping someone else out, and if you need a short boost just to get through a tough time, throwing out a little kindness works for you too.

I believe we’re programmed to operate that way. It’s better for humanity, it’s better for other people, and it’s better for you. So don’t replace your medical care with kindness, but by all means set yourself up for success. Tilt the odds in your favor. Things will tilt them against you. There are reasonable limits, of course, but if you start looking for ways to make someone else’s life a bit easier, you will realize just how incredibly, effortlessly powerful you are.

A lot of life is making cost/benefit analysis, and a thumbs up costs nothing. Take the easy wins. Know that you made someone else smile. It helps you too.

I don’t think trying to make yourself happier makes you happy. I do think making other people happier does.

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