Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 361-375

First online:

Happy People Become Happier through Kindness: A Counting Kindnesses Intervention

  • Keiko OtakeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Tohoku Gakuin University Email author 
  • , Satoshi ShimaiAffiliated withKobe College
  • , Junko Tanaka-MatsumiAffiliated withKwansei Gakuin University
  • , Kanako OtsuiAffiliated withKwansei Gakuin University
  • , Barbara L. FredricksonAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan

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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.


gratitude intervention kindness positive psychology subjective happiness