Acts of kindness have been proven to make us happier, lower our blood pressure, and promote stronger social connections.
While people do feel good by doing acts of kindness, new research shows that we benefit by just recalling certain acts of kindness done by us in the past.
Close relationships (with spouses, family, friends, community members) are the biggest factor keeping people happy throughout their lives, researchers discovered. People with strong relationships are happier, and physically and mentally healthier, than those who are less well-connected. (The researchers are still studying the connection between relationships and physical health -- there's evidence that good relationships result in lower levels of stress hormones, and less chronic inflammation.)
Other ingredients for a long and happy life include not smoking or abusing alcohol, exercising regularly and finding work-life balance, the Harvard study found. "Rather than just being your grandmother's good advice, there's real science behind this," Waldinger says. "You can quantify the number of years you'll live longer, if you do these things."
Scientists believe that it is impossible to recall the first few years of life. Many of the necessary brain structures for memory have not yet matured at the time. It means that it is physiologically impossible for your brain to remember personal events from infancy.
Any recollections are patched together from other knowledge we acquired later on.