Being kind takes so little effort. The effects, however, can be life-changing.
Sometimes a smile can be the one thing that gets someone through their day. Sometimes receiving a friendly, quick phone call is all someone needs to make it through a hard time. If you've ever been shown an act of kindness, you know that even the smallest things can make a difference.
Acts of kindness, however, can be as unique as people in this world, so we wanted to share some that might surprise you. We asked four people to tell us about a time that being shown kindness changed their worldview. Their answers may give you a whole new reason to be kind to the next person you see.
Writer Carol Gee was afraid and alone in the hospital when her boss showed up for her in a way she never expected.
"I had been on my job as a university administrator for roughly six months when my husband suffered his first heart attack. Newly relocated with no family in the area, I was frightened. I felt really alone as I sat with the families in the waiting room," explains Carol.
"Suddenly, I looked up to see my supervisor, a physician, entering the waiting room and headed my way. We waited for the doctor together. Sometimes she'd hold my hand. When the doctor came out to talk about my husband's procedure and diagnosis, she was able to explain a lot of the medical terms and ask the doctor questions I didn't know to ask."
"That day, our relationship slowly changed from employer to employee to family. Her kindness made me feel less afraid and alone. And it taught me to pay that same kindness forward."
The friendship that grew out of that event, Carol explains, has flourished for more than a decade. And it all started with a tiny act of compassion when Carol needed it most. "All she has to do is ask. I'll always be there."
James Marshall turned his back on his brother. When his brother didn't do the same, it taught James an important lesson in grace.
"I worked for my brother in his commercial cleaning business in the mid 1990's. We were responsible for stripping, waxing and polishing the floors of a few major department stores. I had helped him part-time for years, but when I lost my day job, he took me on full time," James writes in an email.
"Once I got involved in the day-to-day operations on a regular basis, I began making suggestions and eventually demands. When he kindly, but firmly, put his foot down and refused to change the way he did things, I quit. I left him high and dry without a replacement."
"The economy wasn't great and I couldn't quickly find another job. I was out of work altogether for a few months. It was mid-February and I unexpectedly ran out of heating oil in the midst of an unusually cold winter. My brother found out about my situation. Without me even knowing or asking, he arranged to have the fuel company deliver a full tank of heating oil to my address."
"My brother has always been a kind person, but that particular act of kindness was life-changing for me. I was accustomed to retaliation in these types of situations, or at least a good 'I told you so.' This was the way I behaved toward others as well, especially when I believed I was right."
"I think about this story every time someone close to me wrongs me and then later needs something. More than two decades later, there is no doubt that my brother's act of kindness positively impacts the way I treat others to this day."
Volunteers helped Roxana Colorado's mother get her high school diploma. It created a ripple effect that has improved the lives of everyone in Roxana's family.
"My mom went from working in a sweatshop factory to landing an office job at a real estate company," notes Colorado. "This inspired me to pursue my education and land great corporate careers. Had it not been for her pursuit for a better life I would have never gone to college."
"Thanks to my mom inspiring me to go to school and pursue my dreams, I have traveled around the world, lived an amazing life I would've never imagined, enjoyed an incredible career in corporate finance and transitioned to a career as a business strategist and philanthropist which inspires me even more everyday."
"Our life changed dramatically with volunteers giving up their time to help my mom. We were able to come out of poverty because my mom had the courage to pursue a better life and seek support."
"As a child I grew up angry because of our situation. I had little faith in people because I thought no one cared. Once I saw my mom's life change, my entire perspective changed. It made me realize there was so much to be thankful for and that even a small act can and will make a positive impact in others lives."
Jessica Melore only wanted to attend prom. When a medical condition made that an impossibility, her heart surgeon showed her that she wasn't just a patient to him.
Photo via Jessica Melore.
"When I was 16 years old I had a near fatal heart attack with no prior health problems," Jessica writes in an email. "I had to live on an experimental, battery-operated heart pump because the left side of my heart was destroyed and my left leg had to be amputated because of surgery."
"While I was waiting in hope of a heart transplant, I was able to go back to school with a prosthetic leg and big battery bag (for my heart pump) to try to reclaim my life."
"I was really looking forward to the prom especially. Two days before, I had to be admitted to the hospital because I was dangerously anemic. I was told that if my levels didn't recover by the morning of the prom, I'd miss it. My heart surgeon saw the night before the prom that I was distraught — not only about the possibility of not going, but because I'd missed my prom nail appointment. I was only 16, and when faced with your mortality, there are still things that make you human!"
"He called up a nurse and said they had an emergency. The next thing I knew, a nurse appeared with her 'kit' and gave me a french manicure in hopes that I could attend the prom the next day."
"In that moment, they were showing me that I was a person, not just a patient. It taught me that when you show someone you care about them and have their best interests at heart - even with a simple gesture - it can make a world of difference in a person's life."
It may have seemed like just a make-shift manicure to anyone else, but to Jessica, the kindness her medical providers showed her meant the entire world. It made her feel like a person again.