Kind kids are happy kids. And as it turns out, they’re also more popular. You may be thinking, “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but that’s actually a recent conclusion of researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of California.
In their experiment, 400 classroom students between the ages of 9 and 11 were divided into two groups. Group One was asked to do simple good deeds, like sharing a lunch treat or hugging a parent to lift her spirits. Group Two was told to take note of any places they’d been that they enjoyed, like the park or Grandma’s kitchen. The kids did this for four weeks straight. (And can I just pause here to give kudos for their commitment? Four weeks is a lifetime when you’re nine.)
At both the beginning and end of the four weeks, the children rated their level of happiness. They also pointed out which kids in their class they’d want to work with on a school activity.
By the end of the experiment, both groups felt happier. But when it came to being chosen as a classroom collaborator, the students who had been doing good deeds were more likely to be picked than the kids who’d kept track of dreamy visits.
When I was a kid, my dad bought me an animal poster for my room that read: “The best way to have a friend is to be one.” I was more enthralled by the cutesy-furry kitten photo than the actual maxim (truth be told, I was a little insulted… my dad had never given me wall decorations before. What was he trying to tell me?)
But being nice is good advice. And I don’t think you don’t have to be nine to follow it.