Can kindness cure the common cold?

Some believe only great power can hold evil in check. But I have found it is small everyday deeds that keep the darkness at bay. - Peter Jackson

I’ve been fighting off a cold over the last couple of days, and I happened to listen to a podcast episode of “Feel Better Live More” where Dr. Chatterjee and Dr. David Hamilton were talking about how for our bodies, the opposite of stress is not “peace” but rather “kindness.” 

They do a much more thorough job explaining what happens in our bodies with kindness (and they have delightful British and Scottish accents, so you should really listen!), but I'll paraphrase here:

Kindness releases oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins which:

-strengthens your immune system

-lowers your blood pressure

-dilate your blood vessels so your heart gets more oxygen

-improves your energy

-reduces aches and pains

-can lead to a longer lifespan.

Oxytocin is released when we:

GIVE acts of kindness,

RECEIVE acts of kindness,

or even simply WITNESS acts of kindness.

So a get-well card could help boost someone's immune system so they get well faster!

The doctors point out in the podcast episode, kindnesses have ripple effects. A person who has been the recipient of kindness is likely to treat 5 people more kindly that day, and those 5 people will choose to be kinder to 5 people in THEIR day. So one kind thing could result in 125 kind things (or more!)

As winter comes, and our immune systems struggle with colds, how can we take care of each other?

Maybe chicken soup is helpful for illness because of the LOVE that goes into it.

Dr. Chatterjee suggested an exercise of answering the same question every evening: What was one kind thing you did today?

I’d love to gather our own Tiny and Snail list of kindnesses, so we can all feel more inspired this week. 

I’ll start with three of my own, and if you feel like playing along, comment on this post with a list of your own 3 kindnesses. 

An act of kindness you gave:

I practice comfort with my daughter Ellie daily. I’ve been learning about various calming techniques such as breathing calmly through the nose and petting the upper back and shoulders. When she is upset, I try to practice and teach her these techniques to help her calm down.

An act of kindness you received:

Kelsey (my husband) made a big salad yesterday for us to eat over the next few days. He takes time to cook quite often for us, and works hard at our land to provide us with our own eggs and beef.

An act of kindness you witnessed:

Ellie was watching a video of herself as a baby recently, and she was engaging with the baby. Saying things like “It’s okay, mommy’s here.” It made my heart melt.

As a side note: Cards are a quick tool to harness the power of the mind. They help us focus our attention on someone else (empathy), and they help us dwell in gratitude for that person. A card is a great way to practice kindness, so I hope you take a few minutes to write one or two this week. (If you want to share how a card made your day, or write about it as the kindness you gave, I'd love to hear about it!)

Let’s compile a list and see how long we can make it. If just witnessing acts of kindness can give us an immune boost, I might be able to get rid of this cold really fast! :)

Feel free to copy and paste these:

  1. An act of kindness you gave:
  2. An act of kindness you received:
  3. An act of kindness you witnessed:

(Small details when you’re writing help create a scene that has a greater effect on our brains, so be sure to add a few details!)

Cards to send to someone who is ill:

Back to blog


I love it when science backs up what our spirits have long known to be true! What a wonderful article this is!
• An act of kindness you gave:
I gave a gift card to someone asking for money on the street today — I keep a stash of them to give instead of money.
• An act of kindness you received:
A high school friend of mine bought one of my books and sent it as a gift to Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to help me spread the #HeartspokenMovement. She got a thank you note back!
• An act of kindness you witnessed:
I watched a stranger squat down to child level in a store to help soothe an upset child whose mother was clearly overwhelmed and embarrassed

Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Happy World Kindness Day!
An act of kindness you gave: I was at the opticians picking out new glasses. I overheard the associate working with a patient about the cost of her new glasses and the customer was becoming anxious about the price but realized she had to have them. She ended up going with something less expensive and forfeiting some of the features she wanted. When the associate came to help me, I told them that I would like to pay for the glasses with all of the features and tell the patient that the glasses had been paid for by an anonymous donor.
An act of kindness you received: I had been going through a stressful family situation around my birthday. Two friends sent me small gifts for my birthday and we don’t usually exchange gifts. I knew it was their way of supporting me during a difficult time and it made me feel very loved.
An act of kindness you witnessed: Our older neighbor lost his wife earlier this year and he was failing in health. Many surrounding neighbors helped him by bringing food, getting his mail and arranging to have his house cleaned. These acts of kindness made his life easier and he passed away recently.


Leah, would love to send (because I love snail mail) you a “Get Well” card!! Please send me an address, I can use your office, if your comfortable with that. If not, my wish for you is: Get better soon——-there is still much joy ahead of you! Blessings, Susan Fox

Susan Fox

I love this, Leah! What a powerful thing to reflect on. Here are my answers:

1. An act of kindness you gave: I’m really trying to celebrate the people I love and make them know that their joy matters deeply to me. Our friends just got engaged so I just invited them over for some celebratory homemade ice cream tonight!

2. An act of kindness you received: When I had a cold a couple weeks ago, not just one but TWO friends brought me soup. They did a quick drop off on the porch with their wishes for my return to health. (Big bonus: I now know about THE best matzo ball soup in Milwaukee.) The soup lasted me for several meals and everytime I had a bowl it felt like it was restoring a bit of health back to me. It’s definitely an act of kindness that I’d like to pass on to others when they’re feeling under the weather.

3. An act of kindness you witnessed: When one of our neighbors was having a rough time the other week, I saw that another neighbor let her borrow his cell phone to make a call. It made me think about how we can look out for each other in small ways that matter. xo

Grace aka Snail

An act of kindness you gave:
Bought a coffee for a new coworker and went on a little walk through our new Californian city. It was a perfect November day.
An act of kindness you received:
I’m new to California and a coworker invited me to hang out on the weekend. It was nice to be invited to something without having to make the effort, especially navigating my first job, in a brand new state, and not knowing anyone. It made me feel welcomed in a space where I still feel new.
An act of kindness you witnessed:
A new friend making chai for her husband. They are Indian and they were teaching me about Indian culture, food, & how much she likes to share her culture with others. It was neat seeing the love she poured into making the simple drink for her husband. :)


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