Being kind is good for you and everyone else.

When you’re kind, you develop more friendships than when you’re not. When you give kindness, you tend to receive kindness back, as well and this is one of the many benefits of being kind.

These are some benefits of kindness that you may have already predicted (or maybe not). But did you know that when you are kind, you boost your body’s levels of serotonin production and lower inflammation?

Science is finding more and more ways our mental and physical health impact each other. Here are a few science-backed benefits of being kind.

1. Kindness boosts your immune system.

Oxytocin, our brain’s feel-good hormone, reduces inflammation. Inflammation is linked to all kinds of diseases in the body, including diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines. Even a little kindness boosts our body’s natural oxytocin levels. So don’t wait for someone else to show kindness to you; you can boost your own oxytocin by being kind to others.

2. Being kind is also good for your heart.

Oxytocin, which we now know is boosted by being kind, also expands blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. That’s why it’s sometimes known as the cardioprotective hormone.

Just like damaging behaviors can be addictive, positive habits can be addictive, too. Once our body finds a source of oxytocin, it doesn’t forget it. Kindness is one addictive habit you can start that will be appreciated by your heart, immune system, and more!

3. Kindness can reduce anxiety.

Social anxiety can feel debilitating or even paralyzing. Even as we try to learn social skills and the right way to make small talk, anxiety can jump in at the last minute with reasons why what we’re about to say will be the wrong thing.

So we clam up.

Instead of thinking about how you feel, think about how someone else might be feeling and try to brighten their day. If this advice sounds easier said than done, you’re probably right! It’s hard for those of us whose anxiety sabotages every attempt to be kind. But those who matter will notice the effort. While you’re waiting for them to come around, let the knowledge that you’re treating others the way you’d want to be treated calm your social fears.

One way to let kind acts garner your self-confidence is to plan something out ahead of time that won’t require you to think on the spot. Text ahead and ask what you can bring to an event. Bring allergen-free cookies. Comment on the achievement of your host/hostess or someone at the event. If there are small children, bring a small gift or book.

4. Being kind helps you build your village.

Kindness always comes back, just like other emotions and characteristics, like hate, love, friendliness, spite, maliciousness, humor, and generosity.

Kindness comes back in a way that helps you build a network of humans that all of us are bound to need at some point. It’s the people who become our village. We all go through hard times when we don’t feel like we’re doing enough for the challenges around us. If you’re lucky enough to have a strong network of friends, you’re less likely to bear your burdens alone.

5. Kindness gives you a sense of control.

We instinctively feel resentful of people who push our buttons and cause us to lose our temper or our calm nature.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we start to feel a loss of control or mental stability around these people. Deep down, we know nobody else should be able to control our mood. When we find the resolve to act with kindness, we gain the self-respect that comes from not letting other people rattle us.

Sometimes certain people put us in impossible psychological binds, and there’s no right way to respond to these people. It’s best to avoid these people but still continue being kind on your way out.

6. Kindness gives you a break.

One of the biggest problems with anxiety and stress is that they don’t give our brains a break. When we focus on the joy we are bringing to someone else, we give our brains a much-needed break from figuring out our own problems. This is one of the amazing benefits of being kind.

This break is similar to the kind of brain break we gain from meditation, a good cardio session, a healthy sleep, or engaging in relaxation or art. We give the analytical, thinking, or “left” side of our brain a rest, and we instead engage the creative and feeling side of our brain. In doing this, we find that our consciousness is eased, and our “thinking” brain can operate with a little more ease.

By focusing on someone else’s happiness, we forget about our problems for a while. And that alone is enough to give us a little boost. This is truly one of the “secret” benefits of being kind not many people realize.

7. Kindness is what we all need.

We all need as much kindness as we can get. We all need to be extended grace for our shortcomings. We all need thoughtfulness in our times of need. And no matter how many friends we might have, we can always use another.

If you need a little more convincing about the value of kindness, or even some inspiration, check out “24 Stories About the Touching Kindness of Strangers That’ll Make You Tear Up.”

Then, be on the lookout for ways you can show a little kindness. And remember to notice and show gratitude when others do the same for you.