It’s one of those simple things we do for others that we probably don’t think about much. However, why do we hold doors open for people? Apparently, this act of kindness can lead to feelings of happiness, but just how true is this?
The psychology behind it
Research has found that the main reasons we help others is because we expect our assistance to be reciprocated. If we do something good for someone, we want them to return the favor. What if we’re helping out a person we’re never going to see again though? We do plenty of small actions that benefit others we only meet once in our lives, so how can we expect them to return our kindness?
Science suggests we do this because there’s no certainty we won’t cross paths with that person again. The woman you once held the door open for in the hospital could one day be interviewing you for a job. Sure, the chances are slim, but that doesn’t matter at that moment. Besides, it’s an act of kindness that only takes a few seconds. It’s not exactly going to cost you much to do something for someone else, stranger or not.
Why does it make us happier?
Holding the door open for someone is just one of those insignificant things we do, yet it can have a huge impact on our feelings of life satisfaction? Every time we do this and are thanked for our efforts, we feel like we’ve contributed to someone’s lives. Their gratitude boosts our happiness, albeit by the tiniest margin, and helps put a smile on our face.
While the effects are minimal, imagine if you did this several times a day, every day, for the rest of your life. Aside from becoming a pro at holding the door open, you’d also find yourself being pretty happy. Again, you never know how your actions could influence you in the future.
If you regularly hold the door open for one of the higher-ups at work, you might one day find yourself being considered for promotion. Obviously, you’d need to be good at your job too, but your kindness will have stuck in that person’s mind. Who wouldn’t be happy about the chance of earning more money?
Bring out that smile
Holding the door open is just one of the many small things you can do to boost your feelings of happiness. Though it might pain you to part with your hard-earned money, buying stuff for other people is a great way to get you smiling more. Not only will you get to see how much they appreciate your generosity, but there’s also a chance they might return the favor down the line. Although this shouldn’t be your motivation for doing a nice gesture, the payoff certainly doesn’t hurt.
Next time you approach a door, you know what to do. Those few seconds spent waiting around could really help you out in the long run, just don’t push it. If someone’s really far away, they’ll feel more awkward than appreciative if you hold the door open for them.