Read a classic novel
Turns out, a good book not only bolsters your brain, but can even inspire you to act more kindly. One study by Washington and Lee University psychologist Dan Johnson found a correlation between reading fiction and engaging in pro-social behavior. Moderators had participants read a short story (written specifically for the study and crafted to elicit compassionate feelings for its characters) and measure the degree to which they felt immersed in the piece. Once the paperwork was complete, the experiments would drop six pens in front of the participant. Johnson found that the more a subject was transported into the story he or she read, the more likely they were to help pick up the pens. Here are more amazing benefits of reading and loving books.
Get out into nature
That feeling of awe when you reach the top of a mountain and realize how small you are? It strengthens your tendency toward kindness. One University of California, Irvine, study found that after being placed in a forest of eucalyptus trees, “people felt smaller, less self-important, and behaved in a more pro-social fashion,” wrote researcher Paul Piff, PhD, who worked on the study. The researcher concluded that feelings of awe, like those inspired by nature—or even something more simple, like looking at a photo of Earth from space—can increase empathy. These are 10 signs you have incredible empathy.