Keeping a smile on your face isn’t always easy. Especially when your contracting work presents challenges you weren’t expecting or forces you to deal with people who are less welcoming than you’d hoped. Yet success – and your ability to secure ongoing contracts – requires that you maintain a friendly, positive demeanour. So, what do you do to stay happy and keep smiling? According to a small study recently published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay happy and reduce anxiety is to offer kindness to those around you. According to Professor of psychology Douglas Gentile, “Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection… It’s a simple strategy that doesn’t take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities.” Interestingly, even if you’re not the type to naturally extend kind thoughts to others, pushing yourself to do so will increase your own level of happiness and reduce your stress. Professor Gentile and colleagues tested the benefits of different techniques intended to reduce anxiety and increase happiness or well-being with college students in the United States. The students were asked to walk around a building for 12 minutes, look at the people they saw, and think about them in one of three ways: With loving kindness – think with as much sincerity as possible, “I wish for this person to be happy.” With interconnectedness – think about the hopes and feelings they might share or that they may be in a similar class. Downward social comparison – think about how they may be better off than each of the people encountered. Additionally, a control group was asked to think about the external appearance of the people they saw – eg the colour and texture of their clothing, make up and accessories. Participating students were surveyed before and after the exercise to measure anxiety, happiness, stress, empathy and connectedness. Those who practiced loving-kindness or wished others well reported feeling happier, more connected, caring and empathetic, as well as less anxious. Students who were asked to think about interconnectedness reported feeling more empathetic and connected. Those who engaged in downward social comparison reported no benefit, and felt significantly worse than the loving-kindness participants. Students who compared themselves to others felt less empathetic, caring and connected than students who extended well wishes to others. “This simple practice (of thinking with loving kindness) is valuable regardless of your personality type… Extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy and feelings of social connection,” the authors wrote. Keeping on top of the administrative requirements associated with your contracting role will also help you reduce anxiety and increase happiness. Contact an Ayers Group expert today to find out about the streamlined services we can offer to ease the administrative burden and help you grow your wealth.