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Acts of happiness

In a new study, a link has been identified between acts of kindness and being happy.

Bournemouth University’s Dr Lee Rowland co-authored the review. He says: “The link we’ve found from our research is that being kind to other people has a positive effect on the emotions of the giver of the kind act. What we found is that there is a consistent but quite small effect.”

In the research, funded by, the group meta-analysed 21 previous studies. During these studies, researchers asked candidates to take part in a range of activities, from carrying out acts of kindness, to taking part in ‘prosocial purchasing,’ or spending money on someone else. Their levels of happiness were measured before and after in various different ways.

The analysis shows that doing something for someone else, at a small cost to yourself, actually makes you happier. Lee was surprised at these results, saying: “Prosocial spending has been proven to have a positive effect on the person who’s spending the money. People are invariably happier after having spent money on someone else, than if they’d been told to spend it on themselves, or been told to do something else with it.”

Acts of kindness can range from seemingly small tokens to grand gestures. Holding the door open for someone, writing a kind email, or offering a cup of tea are fairly easy (and free) acts that don’t require a big commitment. More extravagant acts of kindness, like buying someone lunch, or a gift, might involve spending a little money.

Feeling inspired? It’s not difficult to get a great big ball of happiness rolling, but it can’t hurt to have a few ideas to get you started. Here are some to get you going:

Write a meaningful letter to someone, with a good old-fashioned pen and paper (although recycled paper is even better!).

Keep a spare umbrella at work, so when someone looks in danger of getting drenched, you can spring into action.

Each time you go food shopping, buy one extra item to donate to a food bank.

Write a secret message for a friend, then hide it inside a book, leave it on their desk, or anywhere else they’ll come across it.

If you’re feeling flush, pay for someone else’s meal at a restaurant. It could be a friend, or you could secretly pay for a stranger’s meal.

Send a kind message to a friend on social media, just to spread a little happiness.

Spare an extra few minutes in aid of happiness, and let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue.

Take a hot drink to someone working in the cold. There’s nothing quite like a hot chocolate for combating chills.

If you’ve read a great book that you just can’t stop thinking about, leave a copy on the train for someone else to enjoy.

Acts of kindness can be completely reactive, and they could have a huge impact on someone else. By asking people to ‘pay it forward’, seemingly random ripples of kindness could set off waves of good deeds. And, as the science says, there could be something in it for you too.

Comments (7)


about 4 months ago

My partner went and brought me a few bathbombs for mother's day. As I love them and they help me with some of my health problems. He was so happy when they thought he was so kind that he deserved one himself. This made him feel really special.

Lush Customer Care

about 4 months ago


I'm glad you both got treated to a Lush bath, enjoy and stay safe!


about 6 months ago

I went today and bought a perfume and a lotion. I've received a sticker on my bag saying I was the recipient of an act of kindness in Geneva on rue de Rive, and that's the only thing I've received: the sticker...

Lush Customer Care

about 6 months ago


Hello there, I am sorry to hear this. You will need to contact our Lush Switzerland team here [email protected] and they will be able to advise. I hope this helps! :)


about 9 months ago

I was the recipient of an act of kindness/happiness in your Maidstone store. I have been purchasing the products from your sleepy range for the last few months as I have been struggling to sleep since my husband died. I visited a few days ago and was shown the new sleepy dust by one of your lovely store assistants. We were talking and she asked if I had been having sleep problems for long, I told her that my husband had died and that for the last few months I haven't slept much. She then told me that they would like to give me the sleepy dust as an act of kindness. I nearly cried and gave this lovely girl a hug. The gesture was so thoughtful and made my day. Thank you :)

Lush Customer Care

about 9 months ago


This is such a lovely random act of kindness. Thank you for getting in touch. We hope you sleep better soon :) Ros


about 2 years ago

Just received a random act of happiness while buying in the Lush store in Plymouth. After I paid for my solid Dirty perfume the man passes me a second solid perfume, Cardamom Coffee, and a small card saying it was something extra to take home. I realised he meant the fact I mentioned it reminded me of my dads spice tin when testing scents. Since Uni's been dragging on its a lovely welcome gesture to receive from the store and next month I'll be back after Easter holidays.