From a young age, individuals are taught to treat others as they themselves want to be treated. While this is a good rule of thumb to live by, and while many people do their best to not be mean, life can make it so easy to make people forget how to be kind and thoughtful. That may sound strange but think about it. When is the last time you sent out “thinking of you cards” to those you love and care for, just because? When is the last time you thanked a grocery store clerk for bagging your groceries, or your mailman for delivering your mail? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone.
Many people do not go out of their way to be kind, but there is so much benefit to doing more than just “not being mean.” If you, like so many others, have let the stressors of life slowly eat away at your innate ability to be kind, try to rekindle it. Below are ___ science-backed reasons to do so.
Kindness Boosts Happiness
The “helper’s high” is a very real phenomenon. According to science, when you do something to help others — whether something as simple as holding the door open for someone or something that requires a little more effort, such as sending custom greeting cards — your brain boosts serotonin production, the hormone responsible for your happiness and well-being. Not only can going out of your way put a smile on another person’s face but also, it can put a smile on yours.
Kindness Is Good for Your Heart
When you do something kind, you may feel all warm and fuzzy inside. According to science, that warm and fuzzy feeling may be the result of a literal phenomenon.
When you’re kind to others, your body releases the hormone oxytocin. This then triggers the release of nitric oxide into the blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a chemical that enlarges the blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. In the medical field, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone because of this quality alone. So, if you’re feeling stressed out, or if you live with high blood pressure, make it a point to be kind. Send out those “thinking of you cards,” give your Mom a phone call and bring your neighbor a loaf of freshly baked banana bread. Doing so can do wonders for your heart health.
Kindness Can Help Reduce Stress
When you go out of your way to do something thoughtful for others, you don’t have time to think about the stressors in your own life. For instance, when you volunteer at a women’s shelter, you can focus on ways to make the lives better of women and children in need instead of that project with the looming deadline. When you sit down and finally write in those thinking of you greeting cards, that stack of dishes in the sink and piles of laundry upstairs fade into the background.
While the act of doing something kind can transport you away from your own life and troubles momentarily, scientists have found a correlation between prosocial behavior and stress. According to one study, affiliative behavior is a major coping mechanism for dealing with stress. Moreover, engaging in activities designed to benefit others can reduce the impact of stress and improve overall emotional functioning.
Kindness Can Boost Your Immune System
Oxytocin is at work yet again … Oxytocin reduces inflammation in the body, which is responsible for most chronic major health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and migraines. According to a study of adults between the ages of 57 and 85, volunteering had the strongest association with low levels of inflammation than any other factor. Even just a small act of kindness, such as thanking the UPS man next time he delivers a package, can go a long way toward triggering a release of health-boosting oxytocin.
Kindness is Free
It does not cost you anything to be kind, but it can make a world of difference in the recipient’s day. For instance, simply smiling at someone instead of just walking past straight-faced can cause them to smile, thereby causing them to experience the same benefits of smiling that you experience — reduced stress levels, elevated mood, lower blood pressure, a boost in immunity and more positivity. By smiling, which so few people do these days, you can set off a chain reaction of goodness.
But don’t just smile. Go above and beyond to realize the full benefits of kindness. Send thinking of you cards to your loved ones, bring your coworkers donuts just because, give someone a genuine compliment, help your elderly neighbor bring in the groceries or just take a moment to really listen to someone else’s story. Acts of kindness, both large and small, can make a substantial positive difference in your life, in the lives of others and, hopefully, in the world. Start spreading cheer today, and shop our collection of cards to tell those special people in your life that you're thinking of them.