The Gift of Kindness
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year is Kindness.
It’s a theme that is really important to me and my mission at Amala Curations; spreading happiness through the art of ethical gifting.
Even when I was a child, I used to get really excited about giving gifts. I remember one year when I was around 8, I wrapped up my parents’ anniversary present (with a little help from my grandma) and I was too excited to wait to give it to them; they received their present 2 weeks early and watching them open the gift was the best present I could have asked for.
This excitement continued into later life, and is the main reason I started Amala Curations. I’ve seen first-hand the happiness that giving to others can create, not only for the person receiving the gift, but also the person giving the gift; that age old saying of “it is better to give than to receive”.
More recently, I’ve learnt that this is backed up by a lot of scientific research, which shows the benefits that kindness and giving to others can have on our own mental health and emotional wellbeing.
We all have stresses in our lives, which for a lot of people, have been made worse during the current coronavirus pandemic. During a time like this, what could be more important than spreading kindness and joy to others, creating a kinder society, and reaping the emotional benefits ourselves too.
I wanted this week to talk to you about some of these benefits of giving to others, and hopefully inspire you to get involved in creating a kinder society.
1. Giving makes us feel happy
A 2008 study by Harvard University showed that giving to others increases our happiness, more than spending money on ourselves.
The altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in our brain (more specifically, the chemical oxytocin), creating the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high”. Oxytocin has the effect of boosting our mood and counteracting the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone.
2. Giving is good for our health
Several studies have been able to link generosity to better physical health and longevity.
One study conducted in 2003 by the University of Michigan found that people who provided practical or emotional support to their loved ones had a lower risk of dying over a five-year period than those who didn’t.
Research suggests one reason for this is that giving to others can reduce stress, and stress is associated with a variety of health problems, such as high blood pressure.
3. Giving creates gratitude
Whether you’re giving or receiving a gift or a kind deed, this can create feelings of gratitude, as it’s a way of either expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient.
Gratitude has been shown to be important in both happiness and health. It makes us feel more satisfied and positive about ourselves and our lives overall. This positivity can be contagious, having an uplifting effect on those around us.
4. Giving promotes trust and social connections
Several studies have suggested that when you give to others, you’re more likely to be rewarded by others’ generosity down the line.
This is because giving promotes both trust and cooperation, and creates positive social interactions.
This creates long lasting connections with others, and creates a sense of belonging and community, reducing loneliness.
5. Giving provides us with a sense of purpose and more perspective on life
Giving to others connects us to a larger purpose, which creates meaning in our lives; very important for our mental health.
This larger purpose also helps us to keep things in perspective and makes us feel more positive about our own circumstances.
It’s important to be kind to yourself as well
With all the talk about kindness and giving to others, it’s important to remember that we need to be kind to ourselves as well.
While it’s great to feel motivated, we need to remember that whatever we can manage is enough.
With the lockdown, many of us have been on social media more than usual, and it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of comparing ourselves and our achievements to others.
But scientific research has also proven that social comparisons cause us to be unhappy; we can start to be too hard on ourselves and our lives when we see what others are doing or have achieved.
If you feel this starting to happen, there are lots of things you can do to focus on being kind to yourself:
- Do something that you enjoy and makes you happy
- Turn off social media for a while
- Write down things that you’re grateful for – daily gratitude can really help us in being happy with our lives and with ourselves
- Treat yourself to something nice that makes you happy
Spreading happiness through the art of ethical gifting
For me, starting my own ethical gifting company has given me a larger purpose, and allowed me to do what I love and spread happiness to others every day. View our wide range of luxury ethical gift boxes and discover the gift of kindness today.
Follow us on Instagram @amalacurations for updates on our gift boxes and bespoke gifting service.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post and want more information on kindness, take a look at the Mental Health Foundation's 'Kindness Matters' Guide; it’s a great source of information.
If you have any comments or questions on our blog or gifting in general, please get in touch or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.