Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!
The first lesson in happiness research is to distinguish between being happy right now and being happy overall. We call these two states, respectively, the affective dimension and the cognitive dimension. The affective – or hedonic – dimension examines the emotions people experience on an everyday basis. If you look at yesterday, were you depressed, sad, anxious, worried? Did you laugh? Did you feel happy? Did you feel loved? In order to look at the cognitive dimension, people have to take a step back and evaluate their lives. How satisfied are you with your life overall? How happy are you in general? Think of the best possible life you could lead, and the worst possible. Where do you feel you stand right now? For you, the best possible life imaginable may involve fame and fortune, or it might mean staying at home to home-school your kids. To me, those are equally valid dreams. When trying to evaluate happiness, the important information is what your dream is and how close you feel to living that dream.
Starting out with the rituals of food and fire around the dinner table can ignite an understanding that the good life builds on connection and purpose. That our wealth is not measured by the size of our bank accounts but by the strength of our bonds, the health of our loved ones and the level of our gratitude. That happiness does not come from owning a bigger car but from knowing that we are part of something bigger – part of a community – and that we are all in this together.
HAPPINESS TIP: EAT LIKE THE FRENCH – CREATE RITUALS OF FOOD AND FIRE Make time to eat. Reclaim your lunchtime and sit with friends, family and colleagues, and enjoy eating your food slowly and with company.
FIVE WAYS TO PLANT A COMMUNITY 1. Create a directory for your street or stairway Knock on your neighbours’ doors and introduce yourself. Alternatively, for us introverts, drop a sign-up sheet in everyone’s letterbox. You can tell people that you are creating the list in case of burst pipes and other emergencies. Ask for names and contact information, but also consider adding a questionnaire to help you get to know people better. Would you babysit a dog or cat? (Yes! Also, can I please walk the dog once in a while?) What is your favourite book? (I’m always torn between The Great Gatsby and A Farewell to Arms.) How many languages do you speak? (Three on average. After a bottle of wine: five; before my morning coffee: barely one.) Try and focus on skills that might be of use to other neighbours. Who is good with computers? Who knows how to change a tyre? Who knows how to preserve fruit? 2. Establish a book-lending cupboard A simple way to start the conversation in your community is to establish a mini-library built on the take-one-leave-one-book principle. The library doesn’t have to be anything fancy or contain the entire collection of the Library of Alexandria. In my stairway in Copenhagen, I’ve just put books on top of the rack of letterboxes. It makes the stairway more homely, it is fun to watch which books get picked up and it encourages interaction between the neighbours. The current collection in my stairway includes titles like A Concise History of Architecture, The Great Gatsby and Introduction to Statistics. For some reason, the first two seem to be the most popular. 3. Use the soft edges There is a bench in my courtyard right outside my kitchen window where I often sit and read. From the bench, you can see a tall chestnut tree and hear the wind in the leaves. The bench also functions as a semi-private space – I can be by myself, but I am still close enough to the public space that people will say hello and ask about the book I’m reading. You won’t ever get to know your neighbours if you never see them. Spaces like this – front gardens and porches – are called soft edges, and studies show that streets with soft edges feel safer and people tend to stay in them longer. Just being out in front of your house gives a welcoming vibe that encourages interaction. Few people would dare come into your kitchen to say hello, but if you are in your front garden, people may get to know you and you them. Because of my outdoor reading spot, I’ve learned that, upstairs from me, live Peter and his daughter Katrine, and further up lives Majed, who has a fruit store (with delicious peaches), and the last time I met him he was going on his first bike ride in twenty years. Interestingly, noise from neighbours ceases to be annoying once you get to know their names and stories. 4. Build a community garden Your home may not offer any soft edges, but there might be a strip of land in your neighbourhood that can be used to create a small community garden – a time-tested way not only to grow a bunch of fresh veggies but also to cultivate a sense of community and for you to put down roots. Tending to your tomatoes is not only relaxing and meditative, it brings people in the local neighbourhood together and fosters the development of community spirit. In other words, it is a delicious way of creating a village atmosphere in a big city. In addition, while more research is still needed, studies suggest that gardening has great benefits for our mental health. There is no magic bullet that cures depression, but sometimes the garden can function as the midpoint between the bed and the outside world, taking us – literally – into the light. A few years ago, the Happiness Research Institute were working for a city in Denmark, developing a strategy to improve quality of life for its citizens, and suggested they established community gardens, as one of the main challenges faced by the city was loneliness in the community. We liked the idea so much we wanted to build one ourselves. So we did. At the time, our office was just across from a church that had spare land, so we bought a truckload of dirt, invited the neighbours, spent one Sunday afternoon building twenty raised plant beds and topped it off with a barbecue. 5. Start a tool-sharing programme The average power drill is used for only a few minutes per year, so there is no need for all of us to have one at home. Power drills, hammers, four different kinds of screwdriver – they all take up space; not to mention leaf-blowers and snow-blowers. A tool-sharing programme is also a good excuse to get to know your neighbours. In short, sharing your tools with neighbours leads to more resources, more community spirit and less clutter for everyone. When you are putting together the street directory, you can ask what tools people might be interested in borrowing and lending – or, if there is extra space in the basement, create a ‘tool library’ board. Put up a board with some tools on it, for example a hammer and screwdriver, and draw around them. Put in a few nails so that the hammer can hang on the board. Also draw the shapes of the tools that are missing so that your neighbours can contribute their excess tools.
HAPPINESS TIP: TAKE A STREET AND TURN IT INTO A COMMUNITY Bring your local community together by creating a directory to share skills and resources. Be like Shani and the community at Hulbert Street and start by building connections with your neighbours. Knocking on a neighbour’s door for the first time may be terrifying for some, but the rewards can be big. You could create a directory for the street or the stairway, ask whether they have some books they would like to donate for the mini-library you are setting up or whether they would like to take part in establishing a community garden in the neighbourhood. The most important thing is to start talking with your neighbours, to learn their names, find out their skills, interests and needs and build a community around them – a community that is as unique as the people who live in your street.
Think of a time when you felt happy or – feel free to tone it down a bit – a time you felt good, or laughed or smiled. Bring that memory to mind and try to remember the details of the situation. Odds are you thought of a memory where you were together with other people. Mine is sitting in a cabin after a day of skiing, surrounded by friends, with a fire in the fireplace and whisky in my glass. I have asked audiences across the world to think of good times and, more often than not, people are with other people in their memories. This proves nothing about the importance of people when it comes to happiness. However, people have an easier time remembering numbers and data if we give them some scenes to attach them to. So, what does the evidence say? Well, if we look at the link with how often people meet socially with friends, colleagues or relatives, we see a clear pattern. The more often people meet, the happier they are. However, one thing is quantity, another thing is quality.
HAPPINESS TIP: DO IT LIKE THE DUTCH – CELEBRATE NEIGHBOURS’ DAY Make the effort to speak to your neighbours. Meet them for a coffee, help them in the shared garden or just stop to chat the next time you see them. According to a Dutch proverb, it is better to have a good neighbour than a distant friend. Since 2006, the Dutch have celebrated National Neighbours’ Day on 26 May. It started as an initiative to get neighbours together and has grown to become an event which is celebrated in two thousand Dutch districts. It was inspired by a survey which showed that three out of four Dutch people found that neighbourhoods which engaged in regular activities were the most pleasant to live in
HAPPINESS TIP: CREATE CRITICAL ANALOGUE MASS Encourage your friends and family to have tech-free periods during the week, avoid the temptation to check your phone, and detox digitally. HAPPINESS TIP: CREATE CRITICAL ANALOGUE MASS Encourage your friends and family to have tech-free periods during the week, avoid the temptation to check your phone, and detox digitally. In addition to bonfires at summer solstice, the field across from our summer cabin was used for play. When I was a child, we could easily muster twenty-five kids for a game of roundball (best described as a simple version of baseball); of course, this was in the pre-iPad age. Last year, a survey from Action for Children in the UK showed that parents find convincing kids to turn off their computer, phone or other device tougher than getting them to do their homework. Almost one in four parents found it difficult to control the amount of time their children spent playing on computers or tablets, while only 10 per cent struggled with getting their children to do their homework. One of the reasons behind this is that kids do not want to be left out
We all daydream. I often imagine getting into shape, but then I realize it gets in the way of me levelling up in Candy Crush. But we all do it. Daydream. Fantasize. Have great expectations about a future where we move to Paris, learn French and write a book.
For the ambitious among us, once we reach our goal we soon formulate another to pursue. This is the hedonic treadmill. We continuously raise the bar for what we want or feel we need in order to be happy – and the hedonic treadmill spins faster with ambition. In other words, the downside to being ambitious is a constant sense of dissatisfaction with our achievements.
HAPPINESS TIP: EXPECT THE HEDONIC TREADMILL Take time to enjoy the journey towards your goal while also being mindful that achieving your goal will not fulfil you completely. Expect and understand that reaching your goal might make you happy – but only for a while. We continuously raise the bar for what we want or feel we need in order to be happy. Getting your book published will make you happy for a while, and then you adjust your ambition to hitting the Sunday Times bestseller list, becoming a global phenomenon. I speak from personal experience. I think we are yet to find the one thing that will permanently quench our thirst when it comes to ambition. So perhaps we need to consider how to turn the idea of the pursuit of happiness into the happiness of the pursuit. People on a quest for something they find meaningful – whether that is building a boat or growing the perfect tomato – tend to be happier; they know that happiness is the by-product of the process and not a pot of gold at the finish line.
HAPPINESS TIP: PAY NOW, CONSUME LATER If you buy an experience, make sure that it is well into the future, so you can look forward to it. Six months from now, what would you like to do? See a certain band with your friends? Invite someone who you feel a lot of gratitude towards to a nice restaurant? Buy the tickets or the gift certificate now. Or go long. Ten years from now, what would be your dream experience? Start putting money aside in a separate happiness account.
HAPPINESS TIP: LINK THINGS WITH EXPERIENCES Save big purchases until a noteworthy occasion, so that the item is worth so much more than what is on the price tag because it embodies your memory of that time. If you must buy things, try to link them with a happy milestone, memory or experience. For example, I saved money for a new chair but waited until I had published my first book to buy it. Or look for things that will bring you happy moments in the future. Consider how a purchase will affect your behaviour in time to come. HAPPINESS TIP: BUY EXPERIENCES Buy experiences and memories, not things. According to researchers Dunn and Norton, if we are looking to buy happiness, it is wiser to invest in experiences rather than things, as ‘study after study [shows that] people are in a better mood when they reflect on their experiential purchases which they describe as “money well spent”’. If people are asked to compare purchases they made with the intent of increasing their happiness – one where they bought something tangible (like an iPhone, gold-plated or not) and one where they bought an experience (a trip, maybe) – and are then asked which purchase made them happier, 57 per cent will say the experience compared to 34 per cent the tangible object. Buying experiences is especially good for happiness if these experiences bring you together with other people and if they are linked with who you see yourself as being. As an example, I see myself as a happiness researcher, therefore I may get more pleasure out of visiting Bhutan – the country that has instituted policies based on gross national happiness since the 1970s – than you. See experiences as an investment in happy memories and in your personal story and development. HAPPINESS TIP: BUY MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES THAT ARE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER Try also to buy experiences that can be part of a bigger journey for you. Something that takes you closer to a lifelong passion. For instance, why not become the world’s leading expert in blue? You would have to look into history (why do we call royal blood blue blood?), science (why is the sky blue?), anthropology (what are the different cultural connotations of blue?), language (why are blue, blau (German) and bleu (French) similar, but so different to azul (Spanish), niebieski (Polish) and sininen (Finnish)?), anatomy (how many shades of blue can the human eye identify?), genetics (why do so few people have blue eyes?) and photography (what is so magical about the blue hour?). If you were to become the expert in blue, imagine saving up for and planning to visit Chefchaouen, the completely blue city in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco, the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, or the Blue Mountains in Australia, where an organic chemical found in the abundant eucalyptus trees in the mountains provides elements for the blue haze after which the mountains were named. Those experiences would be even more rewarding if they were part of your passion for blue. It would also provide you with an identity beyond your job. So what do you do? I am interested in the colour blue.
HAPPINESS TIP: GET ON YOUR BIKE This weekend, dust off your bike and get outside. You may have fond childhood memories of riding around on your bike. It was fun, right? It is time to rekindle that love – or maybe it’s time for you to fall in love with two wheels for the first time. If you’ve never tried cycling before, find a school or someone to teach you. If you have no bike, borrow one – or maybe you live in a city with a bike-sharing scheme. Figure out a way you can substitute driving or passive transportation with going by bike – or just go for a weekend tour by the beach, in the park, anywhere.
The biggest obstacles to happiness are feeling inferior or excluded. A good city does not let its citizens feel this way.
HAPPINESS TIP: MOVE MORE EACH DAY Build more movement into your daily routine: take the stairs, have a meeting while going for a walk and park as far away from the supermarket entrance as possible. The obvious tip here would be to start biking to work, or school, or anywhere. However, your city may not be ready for cycles, so getting your local city council to start investing in infrastructure for people, not cars, could be the first step on a long road. However, there are also some short-term solutions. The reason why Danes exercise more than everybody in the EU is that they don’t see it as exercise. They see it as transportation. A small dose of fitness becomes part of your normal life instead of something you do in the gym.
HAPPINESS TIP: INTO THE WILD Visit the same spot in nature periodically over the course of a year and really be mindful as to how the landscape is changing each time. Find and explore a forest. Take it slowly and forget about what would make a nice Instagram picture. Instead, listen to the wind in the leaves, watch the sun bounce off the branches, take a deep breath and see what smells you can detect. Try to visit the same spot several times a year, so you can appreciate how it changes over the seasons. Say hi to the first day of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Go alone or invite people to join you.
HAPPINESS TIP: START TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH Next time you ask someone how they are doing, have a real interest in their answer, and do not accept ‘fine’. According to the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, nearly half of adults in the country believe that, in their lifetime, they have had a diagnosable mental health problem, yet only a third have received a diagnosis; and every week, one in six adults experiences symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression. Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family members or colleagues the question ‘But how are you really doing?’ And don’t accept a one-word answer.
HAPPINESS TIP: CREATE BONUS GRANDPARENTS We all benefit from relationships across generational divides. Consider who might make good bonus grandparents or just a senior buddy for you. In a perfect world, we would all have Scandinavian family policies and Portuguese grandparents. Our parents may no longer be alive, or they may not live close enough to give their support in helping with the kids. To try to fill this gap, several cities in Denmark have now created ‘Bonus Grandparents Systems’ where senior citizens volunteer to be a foster grandparent for a specific family. For instance, the bonus nanny will help if the kids are sick but will also take part in family celebrations and activities. Although the system has already been set up in Denmark, you could create something similar yourself. An extra pair of hands, a different experience for the children and an extra source of patience to draw on can be helpful. And another upside is that it also reduces loneliness in older generations. Meeting your neighbours through the mini-library or the community garden you set up may be a good first step to build the necessary relationship and trust.
HAPPINESS TIP: DO-NOT-DISTURB INITIATIVES Try out initiatives like Tuesday-morning quiet time which may improve your sense of freedom at work. Start a conversation at work about the ways in which flexibility and autonomy might improve employee satisfaction and productivity. Could you or your boss introduce concepts like quiet Tuesday mornings – carve out two or three hours every Tuesday morning in which no meetings are scheduled, no phone calls made or emails sent? Convince them to have a trial period of a month or two, and then evaluate it in terms of employee satisfaction and productivity. Or you could suggest work-from-home Wednesdays. If an employee saves two hours driving to work, they might even put in an extra hour for the company – and still gain an hour of free time.
Trust is not only something you see, it is something that is shown to you. One afternoon, I went to pick my bike up from the repair man – but, distraught as I am, I had left my wallet at home. ‘No worries. Take your bike and bring me the money tomorrow,’ the repair man said. The same day, I had to read and sign a six-page contract to write a one-page editorial for an American media outlet. The bike repair man made my day better (and built my loyalty towards using him again); contracts for simple transactions make only lawyers’ days better. According to the World Happiness Report 2015, ‘A successful society is one in which people have a high level of trust in each other – including family members, colleagues, friends, strangers and institutions such as the government. Social trust spurs a sense of life satisfaction.’
People who trust other people are happier, and trust does make life easier. High levels of trust exist in offices across Denmark. You don’t need to write up a contract for every small transaction. A deal is a deal. Your word is your word. In Denmark, your managers will not micromanage you but simply trust that the work will be done within the agreed timelines, unless informed otherwise – and of course you are working when you are working from home.
HAPPINESS TIP: ENCOURAGE PRAISE AMONG CO-WORKERS TO INCREASE TRUST Employee of the week is the one who has made their colleagues shine or told other people about their achievements. Employee of the week is far from a new invention, but this model is a little different, because the flowers are not given to the employee who has done the best job but to the colleague who has praised others. If Jørgen has done a great job and Sigrid has told the boss about how well he’s done, Sigrid will receive the flowers. The Danish education system is far from perfect, but I think there are several things we can take away from it. A focus on empathy and collaboration is one thing, but equally important is the understanding that success does not have to be a zero-sum game. Just because you win, it does not mean that I lose. Education systems that rank their students are teaching them that success is a zero-sum game. If you do well, it undermines someone else’s opportunities. But happiness should not be like this. In fact, it is one thing that does not become smaller when it is shared. In Denmark, the students are not ranked. And the kids do not receive formal grades until eighth grade. Instead, there is a teacher–parent conversation about the child’s development, academically, socially and emotionally, each year. For people working in organizations in which there is little trust, work is often associated with words like ‘control’, ‘monitor’, ‘check up’ and ‘bureaucracy’, with rules and regulations. HAPPINESS TIP: TURN COMPETITION INTO COOPERATION Change games of competition into games of cooperation by reconfiguring rules and goals. In order to teach our kids the value and fun of cooperation over competition, perhaps we could tweak some classic games. We all know the game musical chairs, right? Ten kids; nine chairs; when the music stops you find a chair; if you don’t find one, you are out; one chair is removed each round, until there are two people and only one chair. So, basically, a mild version of Hunger Games for people who really like to sit. This game also teaches our kids how to fight over scarce resources. And if you are one of the first to go out, you get to stand and watch the game instead of taking part. FUN! How about we turn it into a game of cooperation? We still start with ten kids and nine chairs but, when the music stops, we all sit – two kids share one chair. Well done. Now, we remove one chair but all the kids stay in the game. The music stops, and this time two chairs must seat two kids each. You get the picture. At the end, all ten kids try to fit on one chair together. Instead of teaching them how to compete, we teach them how to cooperate.
WAYS TO ENCOURAGE EMPATHY IN KIDS Go for a walk and look for someone in a grey jacket (or whatever you decide). Once you have identified such a person, spend the rest of the walk talking about what you imagine their life is like, based on how they look. Draw a face in the middle of a sheet of paper expressing joy, anger, sorrow or some other emotion, then draw what would make the person feel like that. Play ‘Feeling of the Week’: Select a feeling, draw or write it on a Post-it and stick it on the fridge. Then, all week, ask your child to point out this particular feeling when they spot it in themselves or in others. Stand in front of a mirror. Put your arms behind your back and talk, then use your arms to make gestures expressing what you were saying. (This can also be played with two people, where one does the talking and the other the gestures.) Play one of your kids’ favourite films but with the sound off. Talk about the facial expressions you see, what they mean and why the characters may feel this way.
HAPPINESS TIP: TRAIN YOUR EMPATHY MUSCLE Read literary fiction and move beyond your normal social circles to get a better understanding of other people’s behaviour. Put yourself in the shoes of others and pick up some literary fiction. Go for books like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Find social blenders that allow you to move beyond your normal social circles. Visit places that voted in the opposite end of the political spectrum from you. If you listen to people’s stories, you may find that you might have made some of the same choices if you had lived their life rather than yours. We are not so very different; we just had different starting points. And while it is easy to stop listening and dismiss people we disagree with as ignorant, as evil and as the enemy, that will only lead us to misery. But perhaps if we listen we might learn that it is inequality, unfairness and injustice that are the enemy and that empathy, trust and cooperation are the way forward.
Helping people, listening to their stories and getting involved in their hopes and dreams and struggles bring both sorrow and satisfaction. When we get to know people, we start to care more. We take part in their victories – and share their defeats. Life is messy, and relationships are hard. The outcome of helping may be a mixed bag. Getting involved also means that we can get hurt from time to time. But helping also brings a sense of purpose. HAPPINESS TIP: BE MORE AMÉLIE Find ways to bring happiness to others through acts of kindness. In the movie Amélie, the shy waitress finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia that has been hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. Amélie finds the boy – now a grown man – and returns the box to him. She promises herself that, if it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others. The man is moved to tears, and Amélie embarks on her new mission. She starts a romance between people. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world. She escorts a blind man to the Métro station, giving a rich description of the street scenes they pass. I think, the world needs more Amélies. What if we all became secret superheroes of kindness?
FIVE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS TO DO THIS WEEK Leave a gift on someone’s doorstep. Learn the name of the person at the front desk, or someone else you see every day. Greet them by name. Make two lunches and give one away. Talk to the shy person who’s by themselves at a party or at the office. Give someone a genuine compliment. Right now.
HAPPINESS TIP: CELEBRATE WORLD KINDNESS DAY Get your friends together and get creative on how you can celebrate kindness. What better way to celebrate World Kindness Day than with kindness? World Kindness Day was introduced by the World Kindness Movement, a group of national kindness organizations, in 1998 and is celebrated on 13 November each year. In the UK, there is also a National Kindness Day – this year it was held on 31 March. Get your friends together and form a ‘help mob’ (a helpful flash mob), say, for a charity or somebody who needs a hand with something; dress up as a superhero and perform random acts of kindness that day; or call or write to someone who has been kind to you in the past and thank them.
Not only can our current mood be improved by a helper’s high but altruism can also affect our overall happiness and how we evaluate our lives. People who volunteer are happier than those who do not, even after controlling for other factors such as socioeconomic status. Moreover, they experience fewer depressive symptoms, less anxiety and enjoy a more meaningful life. Part of the explanation may be that people who are happier tend to be more inclined to sign up for voluntary work. However, another part may also be that some groups may expose you to the way in which people who are less fortunate than you live and thus make you more grateful for what you have. Doing voluntary work may also have indirect positive effects.
HAPPINESS TIP: VOLUNTEER Find ways you can volunteer to help others. Improve your community and develop your sense of purpose. Whether it’s a one-off or something you do every week, volunteering is good all round. You are making your local community happier, increasing your trust in others and theirs in you, improving your skills and meeting new people who may turn into friends.
HAPPINESS TIP: SMILE AND CHAT TO STRANGERS Hand out smiles and friendly remarks. They are free. Make small talk. Have a friendly chat. Give a compliment. Americans have mastered this art; Danes are notoriously bad at friendly chats with strangers.
HAPPINESS TIP: DON’T ASK, JUST HELP Bypass the whole ‘Let me know if there is anything I or we can do’ thing. You know what to do. One afternoon when I was in high school, I came home and saw our neighbour Niels shovelling gravel in his driveway. I picked up a shovel and joined him. It was obvious he could do with some help – there was no reason for me to ask. A couple of years later my mother died, and a few days after that Niels and his wife, Rita, rang my doorbell: ‘Come over and eat with us tonight.’ It was that kind of street. You didn’t ask if people needed something, you just gave them what they needed. The point is that, sometimes, there is no reason to ask if someone needs help – so just help.
HAPPINESS TIP: BECOME A RAKTIVIST Start doing little Random Acts of Kindness. Sign up on the website www.randomactsofkindness.org and become a member of the Global Community of Kindness, or join local communities of kindness like the Fucking Flink movement (www.fuckingflink.dk/) in Denmark. Start out with little things: give a (sincere) compliment, help a tourist find their way, pass on a book you have enjoyed, tell someone who means a lot to you that they do.
HAPPINESS TIP: USE THE BUILDING BLOCKS Combine the six factors with each other. By now, you have an advantage in developing ideas about how to help people, about how to show more kindness and make the world a happier place – your world and everybody else’s. Combine kindness with the five other factors we have been looking at in this book. You may try kind togetherness, for example: invite someone new in town for dinner. You may spend kind money: think about where and for whom an additional ten pounds may bring most happiness. You may show healthy kindness: do a run for a good cause. Offer someone a night of freedom by helping them out with babysitting or by cooking meals they can put in their freezer. Develop trust by being the kind stranger who makes someone believe that there is still good in this world. In other words, start putting the pieces together.