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

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

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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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Dignity Health

Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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