Kindness costs nothing, but it can make all the difference. Here's how.
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Dignity Health

Being kind takes so little effort. The effects, however, can be life-changing.

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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.

Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

"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.

Photo by juan pablo rodriguez on Unsplash

"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.

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

"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.

We all have the capacity, even with tiny actions, to make someone's life a little bit different; a little bit better. Let's never miss an opportunity to take advantage of it.

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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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