Kind of Nice, Kind of Happy

April 25, 2016

Picasso_bird_goat_dancingSunshine and a near-cloudless sky this early Monday on California’s north coast, but chilly with frost warnings for the area, and again for tonight, too.
Rain indicated for Wednesday, but after that from the looks of the WunderBlog weather thingy, dry conditions until at least the middle of next week.

We made the online LA Times front page this morning, but not for anything good — a 3.4 earthquake right here in Mckinleyville, which according to the USGS, was about 12 miles deep.
I heard it, way-more than felt it — sounded like a big bird fluttering away. I just figured a big crow had just jettisoned off my roof — not!

In the run-up to international Pay It Forward Day this Thursday, a new study suggests that being kind to people should be the first stop in the never-ending pursuit of happiness.

(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Musician, Dancer, Goat & Bird,‘ found here).

Kind means happy — unless it’s real life. Current state of the world’s affairs seems to reveal the milk of human kindness drips softly, and appears soundless. And being kind requires kindness, but maybe just being ‘nice’ isn’t so kind at all.

There’s a difference I guess, between ‘nice‘ and ‘kind‘ — the first usually surfaces when the need arises, the second supposedly present 24/7. Psychiatrist Marcia Sirota at HuffPost earlier this month:

Many people confuse being nice with being kind, but they’re very different things.
Being “nice” is all about “If I’m good to you, maybe you can give me validation in return?”
Often, this is all happening on an unconscious level.
Being kind is different in that kindness comes from loving and accepting yourself, so that your positive self-regard overflows outward onto the people in your life with no expectation of what you might receive in return.
The nice person pleases others in the hopes of getting something out of it, but the kind person is good to others as an extension of their self-love, no strings attached.

Ideally, of course.
And reasonable.
In that new study, kindness seems to be heartfelt, and not self-centered, which can be nagging.
From the abstract — via PsycNET last Saturday:

When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself.
By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others.

In addition, we provide evidence for mechanisms explaining the relative improvements in flourishing among those prompted to do acts of kindness — namely, increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions.
Those assigned to engage in self-focused behavior did not report improved psychological flourishing, positive emotions, or negative emotions relative to controls.
The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood.
People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves.
Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.

And on a Monday…

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