Choosing happiness - revisited

I originally wrote this post in 2008 and have resurrected it hoping that you'll find it interesting and helpful. I'm too busy to write this morning, I'm teaching myself how to edit a video on my computer. I'll be back tomorrow. :- )

At my sister's house.

Recently Kathleen sent me a magazine article called Grin and Tonic. I don't know what magazine it's from, there was a time when I knew every popular magazine by their page style, now I'm happy that I don't know. Anyhow, it's a very interesting view on happiness. In part it reads:
"While not exactly simple, some of their findings suggest there may indeed be a science to happiness - even a recipe. (And if your own idea of happiness is a flat-screen TV or a pair of Jimmy Choo heels then cover your eyes because the truth is, well, not very glamorous.)
When University of Wisconsin researcher Dr Richard Davidson hooked up a Tibetan monk to an MRI and asked him to meditate on, of all things, compassion, he got the most surprising result of all.
"There as a dramatic increase in activity in the areas of the brain associated with happiness. There is an inextricable link between personal happiness and kindness."

Well, well, well. Fancy that. So all those times our mothers and grandmothers told us to be kind to others they were really showing us the way to personal happiness.

The article goes on to state that in another study they found that five random acts of kindness a week for six weeks"produced a dramatic increase in the subjects' levels of happiness".
This is one thing I know to be true. I know that being kind to others makes me happy. And it's more than the feeling I get when I am thanked for a kindness, it's more than the smile that sets on my face when I see the delight of someone who has been surprised by kindness, it's more than that, much more. This kind of happiness is within, it's more permanent than a fleeting smile, this kind of happiness stays with you, it can be built upon.

Before I changed my life I was kind to others but never went out of my way to be. Now that it's a more conscious action I make sure I'm kind whenever the opportunity arises and I have deliberately chosen to spend some of my time where I will be in a position to help others. It has made such a difference. It has shown me that my own life truly is blessed, that giving is much better than receiving, that my soul is enriched by people I would otherwise not have met and that my life is better by doing this simple thing.

There is a knack to kindness - it should be quiet and matter-of-fact. Grand acts of kindness, done only for the thanks or what will come from it, are quite the opposite of what I'm writing about. This kindness is often carried out with no thanks or expectations of it. And I'm not talking about making yourself a doormat either. This kindness will make you stronger. Doormat kindness is loud and obvious and done to make yourself popular or to look good. I think real kindness is like a whisper, only you and the recipient know.

I have never been happier than I am now and I owe that to the kind of life I live. I have deliberately made the choices that give me this kind of life and I repeat those deliberate choices almost every day. I knew long before I lived this way that kindness, generosity and sharing would be a big part of my life but until I started living it, I didn't know how happy I would be made by those simple choices.

If you feel that your life is out of control and you're not sure how to steady it, think about what I've written here. You can change at any point by making small, deliberate choices in your every day life. Kindness is easy and simple but the rewards that come from the quiet execution of it are far more complex than I can fathom. All I know is that I have been changed by giving and if you can change one person's life by an act of kindness, then you will start to change your own life too.


  1. This is so very true and I am glad and appreciate that you have written about simple acts of kindness on your blog. I have never commented on your blog before but with this post I couldn't stop myself! I try to practice compassion and kindness for myself and for others every day and we have raised our daughter the same way. I find that sometimes people have that "who cares what other people think" attitude, and that's okay under certain circumstances, but generally it is a harsh way to live. Thank you for your great blog!

  2. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it again.

  3. Beautiful words Rhonda. by the way I made your biscuits yesterday and posted it on my blog. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane,Australia

  4. I was listening to a program about happiness on Radio National earlier this week (Monday, mid morning I think). Anyway, the speaker was saying that he has found for contentment, happiness is the wrong goal in life; curiousity is what drives contentment. My thought is that it is so true for the simple life which provides ample opportunity for exploration of new skills.

  5. So very true and thanks for a very timely reminder. Have a lovely day and lots of fun with your video editing.

  6. Hello again Rhonda, I haven’t commented for some years as I’ve had almost no access to a computer, plus my life was turned a little upside down for quite a while which put great strain on my health. I’m now delighted to be able to read your lovely blog again and have regained enough energy to live my “down to earth” life once more.
    I certainly agree with what you say about kindness to others and personal happiness as I know this to be true from my own experience. I also think there are some things I’ve learned about happiness and giving that might extend this train of thought a little further.
    I used to devote time and energy to others on a regular basis and felt personally uplifted from the experience but it was always when I had the energy to do so, even if I didn’t always think I had the time. In recent years I have needed to put in massive amounts of time and energy to help care for elderly relatives. Anyone who has had to care for the total needs of a dependent person will understand just exactly how much giving one needs to do, even with help from govt. services! Having a chronic health condition myself meant pushing my energies way past my abilities, which has taken two years to recover from. It was certainly “industrial strength” kindness.
    It’s easy to give to others when you have the energy. It takes absolute commitment to your values and strength of perseverance to be kind and loving even when you’re so depleted and sick of having to do something for someone you wish you could be anywhere else! I learned that kindness to others is sometimes a thing you do because it’s the right choice in the circumstances even though you don’t feel like doing it and it barely makes you feel uplifted at all.
    I also learned in recovering my physical (and mental) health that taking time to experience feelings of peace, the beauty in nature, the very simple joys in living made me feel uplifted. This is what I think ties in with the monk who focused his actual thinking on compassion and thereby felt it within him. Maybe kindness and thereby happiness also means what you spend time thinking. What do you think?
    Best regards, Marilyn.

    1. Hi Marilyn, it's good to read about your recovery. I think you're right in that kindness is sometimes something you do because it's the right choice at that time. However, I've never been in your situation of having to extend full time care to someone and I'm sorry to say I don't know how I react. I hope I'd remain kind and gracious, but I don't know. The beauty of nature and feelings of peace move us towards happiness and the expression of kindness but I hope that when we feel good in ourselves that is not the only time we can be kind.

  7. Rhonda,

    I have a question about the forum; I registered and then received an email that I was no eligible? Really? I live on a farm; I treat people with respect; I have never spammed; I haven't even been to the forum until this week. What is up with that? Surely, it was an error?

    Thanks for addressing it!

    1. Yes, it was an error. Sorry Matty. You are exactly the sort of person we want to be there. Try again and I'll look out for you.

    2. Thanks, Rhonda! I was sort of surprised! :)

  8. Lovely, truthful post, Rhonda. It can be summed up as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". God Bless.

    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

  9. Hi Rhonda,

    Love reading your blog. I agree simplicity and kindness are the way to happiness. I am only 30, but have become fed up with trying to climb the corporate ladder. I quit my job last week to stay at home for 6 - 12 months, live simply, and see how far that gets me.

    I may still be feeling slightly euphoric at the decision, but so far I think it's the best thing I've ever done.


    1. Thank you, B. I hope staying at home is all you want it to be. Stay in touch and tell me how it goes.

  10. Fab post. Must be the theme for the day as this great article about '22 things happy people do differently' came past my desk too which I thought was great and ties in really nicely with what you are talking about.

    And thank you for all your inspiration!

  11. What a beautiful post. I think it is so very true. And the random acts of kindness don't have to be big... I end up feeling great just holding the door open for a stranger at the store or something like that.

    Today I visited a grocery store that I don't often shop at. They were having some sort of promotional game for frequent shoppers where you collect tickets at the checkout lane for buying certain items. Anyhow, the fellow in front of me in line was excitedly talking about how close he was to winning something in the game, so when I saw him in the parking lot, I offered him the tickets I got at the checkout since I had no use for them. His face lit up and he started excitedly telling me how he hoped to collect enough to win a motorhome to retire with. He made my day!

  12. Thank you for reposting this! I am exactly at this point in my life where I am choosing to stop and appreciate the precious moments each day that make me happy and put a smile on my face. In fact I have just started my own blog,

    Everyday Small Things (

    as a focus here. I hope to create a happy and loving home that I can also enjoy (and not find stress in as my mother did). You have inspired me and I will continue to read!

    xo Everyday Small Things by KT

  13. I read the other day that you cannot be selfish and happy. Your post is so true. I think if we would get over ourselves and see how we can help others, there would be big changes in the world. And many people would go from being depressed to finding true happiness and contentment.

    Love to you, Rhonda jean!

  14. What Marilyn said is so true, sometimes you have to give and give because you feel that is best for the person you care for, no matter what others say or think.

  15. A lovely (and beautifuly written!) post that really rings true for me. Also a great reminder that I should focus on this in my day-to-day life.

    Thank you


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