In my long study of happiness, certain things have become clear. One thing I’ve learned: do good, feel good—it really works.
I’ve also learned that we should act the way we want to feel. People believe often assume that they act because of the way they feel, but in fact, we very often feel because of the way we act. So to change our emotions, change your actions. If you want to feel like a caring person, act in a caring way. If you want to have more loving feelings toward someone, perform loving actions for that person’s benefit.
I can think of an example from my own life that illustrates these truths.
Years ago, my husband Jamie and I went away for the weekend, and to his great annoyance, he couldn’t find his iPod when we got home. (Yes, this was so long ago that he was still using an iPod.)
He was so sure of that he hadn’t left it at the hotel that he didn’t think it was even worth the trouble to call. At that time, I was doing my happiness project, and I’d made the resolution to “think of small treats and courtesies,” so I went ahead and called.
I had no real hope that the iPod would be found, but I was going to award myself a gold star just for calling (and I’ll do anything for a gold star).
Surprise—Brian from the gym called. Someone had turned in the iPod, and Brian was mailing it back right away.
The only thing interesting about the story is the question: who felt happier? Jamie, who got his beloved iPod back, or me, who made the call that located it?
Answer: Of the two of us, I felt happier. It thrilled me to imagine how pleased he would be, and because I’d acted in a loving way, I felt full of love. Do good, feel good.