Simple boost in happiness: recalling acts of kindness improves well-being!

How to become happier? A question people ask themselves often, as evidenced by the popularization of exercises boosting well-being, such as meditation. However, these exercises can take a long time and lots of effort. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to boost your well-being by something as simple as recalling the moment you bought your grandmother groceries? The following study suggests that we can!

In their study, researchers randomly assigned 532 students to four groups: (1) performing acts of kindness without recalling them, (2) recalling acts of kindness without performing them, (3) both performing and recalling an act of kindness, and (4) neither performing nor recalling acts of kindness. Every day, for 3 days, the participants filled in a questionnaire that measured positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, and psychological needs, all concepts related to happiness. On Day 1, group 1 and 3 had to perform three acts of kindness for someone else. On Day 2 and 3, group 2 and 3 recalled past acts of kindness before filling in the questionnaire.

The results suggest that both performing and recalling acts of kindness improve well-being. Interestingly, simply thinking about your previous kind actions increases your level of happiness as much as performing kind acts. Thus, while it is still important to be kind and do things for others, if you want a simple and quick boost in happiness, try thinking about your previous good-doings. You already are a great person, and you better remind yourself!


Ko, K., Margolis, S., Revord, J., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2021). Comparing the effects of performing and recalling acts of kindness. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 16(1), 73–81.

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