Giving and RAKS

Hello Happiness Explorers! My name is Donna and I have been running the Chelmsford Happiness Project for a year now and it has been a very exciting journey! I started it after finishing my Advanced Diploma in Integrative Psychology, where I learnt and fell in love with Happiness Psychology :). I have always wanted to start a community group and thought an Action for Happiness Club would be perfect for me; what's more there wasn't one in the whole of Essex at the time, which was exciting! The first group meeting was in March 2014 and we all made Happiness Jars, while discussing the 10 keys for Happier Living . Since then, the group has lots of new members and over the past year, we have tried lots of FUN things - Basketball, Geo-caching, Forest Bathing and Yoga. Other highlights included a talk to 250 members of the Chelmsford 'New City' Woman's Institute on happiness (sharing the stage with my friend and founder of the Colchester Happiness Project). It was scary but I loved it and the feedback was amazing! I also created a happiness tent during Chelmsford's Fling Festival, where we encouraged people to pop in and take part in happiness activities. Check out my blog for lots of pictures and more info - x The Chelmsford Happiness Project is now one of Psychologies Magazine's 100 Happiness Clubs! I was really excited about being a part of this, so CHP could connect with other clubs, share ideas, and grow. Most importantly I want CHP to be a part of this experiment to see how we can spread happiness................

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Giving – No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted x

Chelmsford Happiness Project had their first meet up today (in association with with Psychologies Magazine). It was all about ‘Giving’ or RAKs as I like to call them (Random Acts of Kindness). ‘Giving’ is one of the 10 Keys to Happier Living <3 x

During the meet up, we discussed what we have done recently to help others. My friend Jo told us an inspiring story about how her & her husband helped a homeless man in London –

“We were shopping in London together and saw a homeless man with no shoes and holes in his socks. He was asking for money, but we decided to buy him some new socks. We ended up in the Nike shop (bit expensive) and bought him some sports socks. We gave him the socks and ended up having a long chat with him. He told us he hadn’t had a bath in ages and didn’t want to dirty his new socks. We asked him if there was anywhere he could go to wash and he said there was a hostel. We called the hostel for him, to check there was space and got him a cab to make sure he got there. I can still remember the joy and appreciation in his eyes, and it made the parking ticket we got worth it!”

My sister talks to a young homeless man on her way to work and on a couple of occasions has given him her lunch. She said how he was so appreciative and now she always says hello to him and asks him if he wants anything to eat or drink. We discussed how sad it is to see someone our age in such a horrible situation. Unfortunately, in Chelmsford, homelessness is something that seems to becoming more common and if we are not careful, it will become something we get used to, rather than tackle!

We talked about 'Pay it Forward' which is a great concept - Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed and repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old and the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight".

I have heard so many stories of RAKs given by the members of CHP and every one is amazing! x

I love this story – Three German students decided to help the homeless in a unique way. They made this video to highlight their fundraising initiatives and to show that often a small gesture is enough to help a fellow human being in need. Watch this video it’s beautiful –

We also talked about being ‘resentful’. It seemed the main thing making us feel resentful was when others showed no kindness, for example when you smile at someone and they don’t smile back. I have always found this difficult, I always try and be nice, but others are not always nice to me. My mum used to say to me "not everyone in the world is like you". She made a good point and maybe that has always stuck with me because I want others to be kinder and be happier - we all deserve it! It helps to remember that the key to ‘Generosity’ is to give freely and to not expect anything in return <3 x

We all made pledges – mine was to make people tea at work, because I want to spread more happiness in our office.

Others pledges were –

‘Instead of yelling in their car at other drivers, to instead smile and stay calm – the other driver may be having a bad day!

‘Smiling at strangers and saying hello’.

I asked my twin 4 year old boys how they could be kinder at school and they said “helping people by giving them ideas’ and they said “girls are always kind because they don’t hurt people”. X

I love talking to my boys about ‘happiness’ – they say some really insightful things! Below is a link to a website that lists ‘acts of kindness for kids’.

These are a couple more of the RAKs we discussed previously during our meet-up and I wanted to share them because they made me smile and LOL -

  • I did a random act if kindness this morning without even knowing it!! On the school run/race I dropped a £10 note!!! So I have defiantly made someone else happy!
  • "Someone gave me a very kind random act of kindness. Wednesday night I got dropped off at Shenfield station, only to realise I'd left my bank card behind. Not being able to get hold of someone to come and get me, I was in a bit of a dilemma, having to wait at least 40mins for someone to drive back and get me! A very kind girl overheard and asked to buy my ticket for me. I'd never met her before and all she took was my phone number so I could get in touch to pay her back. She was soooo lovely and it was very unexpected.

Kindness is good for you - its a scientific fact!!

"When you are kind to another person, your brain's pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver" according to research from Emory University. This phenomenon has actually earned the nickname “helper's high” among psychologists who study generosity; some researchers theorize that the sensation is due to a release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals associated with runner's high.

It's no surprise then, a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic—in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall" ( Kindness does not have to be difficult - a smile is enough :)

NB: While I was tying this i was chatting to a lovely 'older' couple in Pret and when they left they said "thank-you for chatting to us" and I said the same back x

Donna Booth

Chelmsford Happiness Project


Go to the profile of Agatha Penney
over 6 years ago
Donna thank you for sharing the video of the German students, it was truly moving and inspirational, I loved it :-)