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upworthy
Well Being

We asked people to share the nicest thing a stranger's done for them. The stories are pure humanity.

We asked people to share the nicest thing a stranger's done for them. The stories are pure humanity.

The kindness of strangers is one of the most beautiful things about being human. Sure, there are selfish jerks out there, but the vast majority of humanity are good people who truly care about others. We just sometimes forget to look for the good that's all around us.


We asked our Upworthy audience on Facebook to share their stories of the nicest thing a stranger has done for them, and their answers didn't disappoint. Hundreds upon hundreds of comments poured in, with incredible stories of selfless kindness.

If you need a pick-me-up today, these stories might help. You can read all of the comments on our Facebook page, but here are some highlights:

"When my son was little my son saw a pair of sneakers on clearance. They were every color of the rainbow and $3. I had no money and he needed the shoes. So we hid them in a cabinet under the display and I told him if his dad could get work this week (he lost his job and was doing odd jobs at our apt complex to get money towards our rent—I was working part time and was pregnant with my fourth child) I told him if dad could get a little job that week we could come back and get the shoes. He was going into kindergarten in a few weeks and the other kids told me they didn't need new shoes to try to get them for their brother. As we left the mall after we got my little bit of groceries and started to walk home an elderly lady handed me a bag, I told her it wasn't mine and she said it was and walked away. In the bag was the shoes. She must have been watching and listening. My son was so proud to wear those shoes because an angel lady gave them to him." Michelle T.

"When I was 9, I was on holiday with my dad. I spent ages in the arcade on the claw machine trying to get this one toy. I ran out of change, so dashed to the change kiosk, and when I got back to the machine, the toy I was trying to get was gone. I was starting to tear up, when there was this tap on my shoulder and this woman handed me the toy I had been trying to get. She'd watched me trying to get it all that time, managed to get it on her first go and felt bad for me so she gave it to me. I loved that toy so much!" – Kimberly H.

"I was heading up for my daughter's wedding weekend and stopped at a lovely gift shop for a card and maybe a little something extra. I asked how much the beautiful, green milk glass cake stand was and it was over 100.00. I decided I had spent enough money and just went to pay for the card. She came out from the back room with a gift bag all wrapped. She said please take this. I can tell you're a great Mom. I broke down in tears. I've been paying it forward ever since." – Jeannie J.

"3am walking home alone from a club. A guy who had slowly been catching up to me apologised and hurried past me, saying he could see I was nervous with him walking behind me. I thanked him and relaxed a little. Not a hundred yards later, a second man shouts from a passing car, pulls up in front of me and GETS OUT OF THE CAR, beckoning me into the back seat. The previous man is now a while ahead but turns round and shouts "babe come on, I wanna get home!" And starts walking back towards me. Man #2 hurriedly gets back in his car and speeds off.

The first man just gives me a thumbs-up and goes on his way. Nice." – Ruth C.

"Almost a decade ago I was abused by my husband for the last time. It was the first time I had gone to the hospital because of the abuse and I went via ambulance. I swear, every single person I spoke with—every medical worker, security guard, cop, and any person I spoke with in the waiting room as I waited to be picked up to go home shared stories with me about domestic abuse. I was still in such denial but my face was so wrecked, everyone could see what I had been through. My ex went straight to jail from the incident and I have not seen or spoken with him since. Those strangers treated me with respect and dignity and were a huge driving force in me getting out with my children alive. I have come so far and now work in the medical field and share my stories of abuse and escape in hopes that I can help even just one person to get out. I don't know any of their names or faces. I am forever grateful for the time that they all took to save my kids and me." – Mya F.

"Comforted me in the lobby of the veterinary clinic where my dog had just been euthanized. I was standing there sobbing, unable to walk out, and she asked if she could give me a hug. I told her she could and she did. It meant so much to me—I will never forget her." – Amy D.

"A pharmacist paid for my prescription when I was fresh out of college and broke. I was crying counting my change and he just told me to take it." – Lindsey M.

"After I learned that my Mother chose not to have a life saving procedure, that she wanted to let go and die peacefully and I only had hours left with her, I walked into the hospital hallway and emitted painful, wailing cries and fell to the floor. A complete stranger asked if she could hug and hold me because I was breaking her heart. She didn't want me to be alone. After five minutes she told me to be strong, wipe my eyes and not let my mama hear or see me like this. She was an angel during a time of serious need. I will always be grateful for her words, comfort and strength." – Nicole R.

"I was 15 y.o and just landed in Seattle from boarding school in Utah. I decided to hitch-hike alone from Seattle to Denver. A trucker picked me up in Spokane and took me to Billings MT where I'd lived as a kid briefly. He toured me around town to see my home, my school, my piano teacher's house. Then we went to where his trucker buddies all hung out to try to find me a ride to Denver. After a few hours, he told me to get into his rig. He drove to the airport. Told me to wait while he ran inside to 'do a chore.' He returned with a plane ticket and handed it to me and told me 'No argument. You're getting on that plane. I don't trust any of those guys to get you there safely' His name was John van der Horne. He gave me one of his bank deposit slips. His parting words to me were 'You'll think of me someday.' When I was in my 20's (I'm 63 now) I sent him a check and a huge 'thank you.' He never cashed my check and I never heard from him again.

Thank you, John van der Horne. Wherever you are." – Terilee H.

"I was in town one day—we only live in a small town and it was the day the farmers market was there so it was quite busy. I took my child with ASD with me to pick up some things and pop into the bank. Halfway through the town he had a meltdown and threw himself on the floor, rolling around and screaming. Lots of people walking by would stare and make comments, and I reached the point that I just wanted to cry. I couldn't get my son to walk any further and had big bags of shopping to carry so I couldn't carry him. I was exhausted because I'm a single parent and my son had never slept through the night and I have a neuralgia condition meaning I was in constant pain.

A lady with her young child came up to me with flowers and said that she'd had a tough day the day before and someone had bought her flowers, which cheered her up, so she'd done the same for me. She offered to put the bags on her pushchair and carry them to my car so I could carry my son. That made such a difference to my day." – Holly L.

"My husband died unexpectedly at home about 18 months ago. One of the initial first responders to arrive was a police officer I did not know. He sat and held my hand for hours until my husband's body was removed. Had never seen him before, and have only bumped into him one time since that day." – Denise M.

"I was on holidays in San Anselmo, California when I got food poisoning. The hospital staff were so lovely. Two people even offered to give me cab fare back to my B&B. This Aussie was so grateful for their kindness. I wrote to the hospital when I got home and thanked them." – Myrna H.

"Had a stranger pay for my family's and myself's appetizer/dinner/drinks/dessert at a mid-priced restaurant. There were six adults and one child. It was absolutely incredible. They even paid the tip! I was dumbfounded when I asked for the check and was told that there wasn't one." – Holly F.

"Years ago I was shopping with my 3 kids. I had a list and was adding up the cost as I went along. Single mom, little money. When I checked out the cashier said the woman in front of me gave her $25 to help cover my groceries. It was such a quiet kindness." - Dana S.

Here's to the "quiet kindness" of strangers, reminding us that people are awesome and humanity at its best is pretty darn amazing.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Health

Her mother doesn't get why she's depressed. So she explains the best way she knows how.

Sabrina Benaim eloquently describes what it's like to be depressed.

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother."

Sabrina Benaim's “Explaining My Depression to My Mother" is pretty powerful on its own.

But, in it, her mother exhibits some of the most common misconceptions about depression, and I'd like to point out three of them here.

Misconception #1: Depression is triggered by a single event or series of traumatic events.

empathy, human condition, humanity

Depression isn’t just over sleeping.

Most people think depression is triggered by a traumatic event: a loved one dying, a job loss, a national tragedy, some THING. The truth is that depression sometimes just appears out of nowhere. So when you think that a friend or loved one is just in an extended bad mood, reconsider. They could be suffering from depression.

Misconception #2: People with depression are only sad.

family, parents, mom, anxiety

The obligation of anxiety.

Most people who have never experienced depression think depression is just an overwhelming sadness. In reality, depression is a complex set of feelings and physical changes in the body. People who suffer from depression are sad, yes, but they can also be anxious, worried, apathetic, and tense, among other things.

Misconception #3: You can snap out of it.

button poetry, medical condition, biological factors

Making fun plans not wanting to have fun.

The thing with depression is that it's a medical condition that affects your brain chemistry. It has to do with environmental or biological factors first and foremost. Sabrina's mother seems to think that if her daughter would only go through the motions of being happy that then she would become happy. But that's not the case. Depression is a biological illness that leaks into your state of being.

Think of it this way: If you had a cold, could you just “snap out of it"?

No? Exactly.

empathy, misconceptions of depression, mental health

Mom doesn’t understand.

via Button Poetry/YouTube

These are only three of the misconceptions about depression. If you know somebody suffering from depression, you should take a look at this video here below to learn the best way to talk to them:

This article originally appeared on 11.24.15

Here's how to be 30% more persuasive.

Everybody wants to see themselves in a positive light. That’s the key to understanding Jonah Berger’s simple tactic that makes people 30% more likely to do what you ask. Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the bestselling author of “Magic Words: What to Say to Get Your Way.”

Berger explained the technique using a Stanford University study involving preschoolers. The researchers messed up a classroom and made two similar requests to groups of 5-year-olds to help clean up.

One group was asked, "Can you help clean?" The other was asked, “Can you be a helper and clean up?" The kids who were asked if they wanted to be a “helper” were 30% more likely to want to clean the classroom. The children weren’t interested in cleaning but wanted to be known as “helpers.”


Berger calls the reframing of the question as turning actions into identities.

"It comes down to the difference between actions and identities. We all want to see ourselves as smart and competent and intelligent in a variety of different things,” Berger told Big Think. “But rather than describing someone as hardworking, describing them as a hard worker will make that trait seem more persistent and more likely to last. Rather than asking people to lead more, tell them, 'Can you be a leader?' Rather than asking them to innovate, can you ask them to 'Be an innovator'? By turning actions into identities, you can make people a lot more likely to engage in those desired actions.”

Berger says that learning to reframe requests to appeal to people’s identities will make you more persuasive.

“Framing actions as opportunities to claim desired identities will make people more likely to do them,” Berger tells CNBC Make It. “If voting becomes an opportunity to show myself and others that I am a voter, I’m more likely to do it.”

This technique doesn’t just work because people want to see themselves in a positive light. It also works for the opposite. People also want to avoid seeing themselves being portrayed negatively.

“Cheating is bad, but being a cheater is worse. Losing is bad, being a loser is worse,” Berger says.

The same tactic can also be used to persuade ourselves to change our self-concept. Saying you like to cook is one thing, but calling yourself a chef is an identity. “I’m a runner. I’m a straight-A student. We tell little kids, ‘You don’t just read, you’re a reader,’” Berger says. “You do these things because that’s the identity you hold.”

Berger’s work shows how important it is to hone our communication skills. By simply changing one word, we can get people to comply with our requests more effectively. But, as Berger says, words are magic and we have to use thgem skillfully. “We think individual words don’t really matter that much. That’s a mistake,” says Berger. “You could have excellent ideas, but excellent ideas aren’t necessarily going to get people to listen to you.”


This article originally appeared on 2.11.24

Pop Culture

A comic about wearing makeup goes from truthful to weird in 4 panels.

A hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

A comic shows the evolution or devolution from with makeup to without.

Even though I don't wear very much makeup, every few days or so SOMEONE...

(friends, family, internet strangers)

...will weigh in on why I "don't need makeup."


Now, I realize this is meant as a compliment, but this comic offers a hilariously truthful (and slightly weird) explanation of the "too much makeup" conundrum.

social norms, social pressure, friendship, self esteem

“Why do you wear so much makeup?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

passive aggressive, ego, confidence, beauty

“See, you look pretty without all that makeup on."

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

expectations, beauty products, mascara, lipstick

“Wow you look tired, are you sick?"

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

lizards, face-painting, hobbies, hilarious comic

When I shed my human skin...

Image set by iri-draws/Tumblr, used with permission.

Not everyone is able to turn into a badass lizard when someone asks about their face-painting hobbies. Don't you kinda wish you could? Just to drive this hilarious comic all the way home, here are four reasons why some women* wear makeup:

*Important side note: Anyone can wear makeup. Not just women. True story.

Four reasons some women* wear makeup:

1. Her cat-eye game is on point.

mascara, eyes, confidence

Her cat-eye game is on point.

Via makeupproject.

2. She has acne or acne scars.

acne, cover up, scarring, medical health

She has acne or acne scars.

Via Carly Humbert.

3. Pink lipstick.

lipstick, beauty products, basics, self-expression

Yes, pink lipstick.

Via Destiny Godley

4. She likes wearing makeup.

appearance, enhancement, creative expression

Happy to be going out and feeling good.

Happy Going Out GIF by Much.

While some people may think putting on makeup is a chore, it can be really fun! For some, makeup is an outlet for creativity and self-expression. For others, it's just a way to feel good about themselves and/or enhance their favorite features.

That's why it feels kinda icky when someone says something along the lines of "You don't need so much makeup!" Now, it's arguable that no one "needs" makeup, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look.

For some people, feeling good about their appearance includes wearing makeup. And that's totally OK.


This article originally appeared on 05.28.15

Joy

Adorable 'Haka baby' dance offers a sweet window into Maori culture

Stop what you're doing and let this awesomeness wash over you.

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.



The intensity of the haka is the point. It is meant to be a show of strength and elicit a strong response—which makes seeing a tiny toddler learning to do it all the more adorable.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Danny Heke, who goes by @focuswithdan on TikTok, shared a video of a baby learning haka and omigosh it is seriously the most adorable thing. When you see most haka, the dancers aren't smiling—their faces are fierce—so this wee one starting off with an infectious grin is just too much. You can see that he's already getting the moves down, facial expressions and all, though.

@focuswithdan When you grow up learning haka! #haka #teachthemyoung #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou #kapahaka ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

As cute as this video is, it's part of a larger effort by Heke to use his TikTok channel to share and promote Maori culture. His videos cover everything from the Te Reo Maori language to traditional practices to issues of prejudice Maori people face.

Here he briefly goes over the different body parts that make up haka:

@focuswithdan

♬ Ngati - Just2maori

This video explains the purerehua, or bullroarer, which is a Maori instrument that is sometimes used to call rains during a drought.

@focuswithdan Reply to @illumi.is.naughty Some tribes used this to call the rains during drought 🌧 ⛈ #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp ♬ Pūrerehua - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

This one shares a demonstration and explanation of the taiaha, a traditional Maori weapon.

@focuswithdan Reply to @shauncalvert Taiaha, one of the most formidable of the Māori Weaponry #taiaha #maori #māori #focuswithdan #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

For another taste of haka, check out this video from a school graduation:

@focuswithdan When your little cuzzy graduates and her school honours her with a haka #maori #māori #haka #focuswithdan #fyp #graduation @its_keshamarley ♬ Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui - 𝕱𝖔𝖈𝖚𝖘𝖂𝖎𝖙𝖍𝕯𝖆𝖓

Heke even has some fun with the trolls and racists in the comments who try to tell him his culture is dead (what?).

@focuswithdan Credit to you all my AMAZING FOLLOWERS! #focuswithdan #maori #māori #followers #fyp #trolls ♬ original sound - sounds for slomo_bro!

Unfortunately, it's not just ignorant commenters who spew racist bile. A radio interview clip that aired recently called Maori people "genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol, and underperformance," among other terrible things. (The host, a former mayor of Auckland, has been let go for going along with and contributing to the caller's racist narrative.)

@focuswithdan #newzealand radio in 2021 delivering racist commentaries 🤦🏽‍♂️ #māori #maori #focuswithdan #racism DC: @call.me.lettie2.0 ♬ original sound - luna the unicow

That clip highlights why what Heke is sharing is so important. The whole world is enriched when Indigenous people like the Maori have their voices heard and their culture celebrated. The more we learn from each other and our diverse ways of life, the more enjoyable life on Earth will be and the better we'll get at collaborating to confront the challenges we all share.


This article originally appeared on 01.28.21