Counting Your Good Deeds Makes You Happy and Motivated

Counting Your Good Deeds Makes You Happy and Motivated

A team of Japanese university researchers found that college students could increase their sense of happiness “simply by counting one's own acts of kindness for one week.” Even people who already considered themselves happy became kinder, more grateful and motivated as a result of doing this exercise.

Exercise: Take 60 seconds now and write down all the acts of kindness you performed yesterday. Then think of one act of kindness you can perform today.

SOURCE: Happy people become happier through kindness: a counting kindnesses intervention. Otake K, Shimai S, Tanaka-Matsumi J, Otsui K, Fredrickson BL. J Happiness Stud. 2006 Sep;7(3):361-375.


We examined the relationship between the character strength of kindness and subjective happiness (Study 1), and the effects of a counting kindnesses intervention on subjective happiness (Study 2). In Study 1, participants were 175 Japanese undergraduate students and in Study 2, participants were 119 Japanese women (71 in the intervention group and 48 in the control group). Results showed that: (a) Happy people scored higher on their motivation to perform, and their recognition and enactment of kind behaviors. (b) Happy people have more happy memories in daily life in terms of both quantity and quality. (c) Subjective happiness was increased simply by counting one's own acts of kindness for one week. (d) Happy people became more kind and grateful through the counting kindnesses intervention. Discussion centers on the importance of kindness in producing subjective happiness.

Special thanks to leading neuroscience expert and best-selling author Mark Waldman for the source material for this post. Check out his university endorsed Neurowisdom 101 brain training program.