One day I was going home and jumped on the LRT (train). There was one seat compartment that was empty except for a 'dirty' run down looking man obviously coming down off of something. Although there were two empty seats across from him, and one beside him, and the train was jam packed, no one would sit there. Me, being me, waltzed into the train car, sat directly across from him, looked him in the eye and smiled. The look of shock, shame and amazment on his face is a look I will never forget. He was obviously shocked that someone would sit across from him when a train full of people had done their best to avoid him so far. After he got over the shock, you could see the shame on his face, and you knew it was because of his appearance and how his problems, addictions, whatever they ... Read Full Story >>
My fiancee and I decided today was the day to finally treat ourselves to a nice dinner. It started off as 'our' day' but little did we know that it would turn into much more. I didn't want the whole day to be about yearning to leave the office for the upcoming dinner and I didn't want the dinner to be just another romantic night for two... So, I felt compelled to turn up the notch of giving that day and see what that could do. During the work day, I began in small ways. I inserted a few more quarters, dimes, and nickels, into the vending machines at work for the staff, so that something extra jingled inside for the next hungry worker. I posted smile signs in the lobby which gave clear instructions on how to smile as employees entered the office, either before their morning cup of coffee or right before a meeting with their boss. I drafted some powerful words of inspiration on colorful strips of paper and decorated my cube, so that any colleagues who came by, might just stop for ... Read Full Story >>
I have been doing what I can to look out for someone who lives close inside my heart though the daily lives we experience are quite far apart . In my home, I wake up to a fresh morning, experiencing the luxury and warmth of the comfort of my own bed laden with a floral quilt that my grandmother once made for me. On the opposite coast of the country, within the confines of the lonely hospital walls, my sister rests often unpeacefully and in pain on a cold and firm plaster white sterilized bed. A cancer inside her is spreading despite a recent mastectomy and three months of intense chemotherapy. Radiation was not a possibility for her and now this condition has seeped into her skull and spine. The comforter which I grip so tightly begins to unravel in my hand and the texture of the fabric begins to soil, as I feel a piece of me lying there with her in the hospital room. In order to keep myself from crumbling, I began to send blessing blankets, little toy angels, and a book of ... Read Full Story >>
I was strolling by some lavender colored lilacs which were clustered alongside the sidewalk yesterday on the way to catch a ride with my neighbor who was joining me for a community dinner gathering. The quiet and soft movement of the little flowers as they danced in the breeze just made me pause for a moment. I looked at them swaying in the breeze as if they were alive and happy. I thought about how it would feel to make another human being alive and happy like those lilacs... It was Mother's Day and although I was many continents away from my mother, I thought about my neighbor, who is a mother too. In fact, a mother of two. In addition to wanting to express my thanks to her for giving me a ride to the upcoming evening gathering, I scrambled back home with my new idea unfolding in my ... Read Full Story >>
On a recent Sunday morning, my daughter and I went the the local bagel shop for a treat. Upon leaving, we saw a wallet on the ground. I picked it up, and figured out how to contact the owner. My daughter wondered if we’d get a reward, and I said it was just right to return the wallet and that we shouldn’t return it expecting a reward. We returned the wallet, and the person was grateful, leaving a wonderful halloween pumpkin on our porch. Only 5 days later, I took a business trip and had a very pleasant cab ride with a cab rider whose home country is very distant from ours. We talked of our cultures, sharing our common experiences in our different worlds. We talked of how difficult being a cab driver has become with the slowing economy. I tipped more than usual, just seemed like the right thing ... Read Full Story >>
When Julie and I were on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic we were mostly cocooned in one of those all-inclusive resorts. (The image of paradise was slightly altered when I discovered that the far reaches of the beach had armed guards!) We went on a coach trip across the island to visit the capitol city (where Columbus first landed in the New World, I think.) We had a good day and were well fleeced as tourists should be. On the way back we were driving through a jungle area. The kind of place where women still wash clothes on the rocks by the rivers. The driver pulled over and let a matronly lady, loaded down with bags, climb on board. She sat well away from us tourists and never said a word. But an hour into the journey she developed one of those really annoying, dry, tickly coughs. They were really ... Read Full Story >>
A few months ago I posted a story about a woman struggling with alcoholism who reached out to me. I sent her a care pack full of smiles, encouraging words and some treats to help her out, along with a special letter I wrote to her. It has been almost 3 months and she is still doing great. She sends me updates and I send her encouraging notes. But, as I have said before, you never know how much something you say or do means to someone else. What happened next reminds me of how true that is. She read a story that another woman posted about being an alcoholic and how she needed to stop drinking, if only for her children. I read it too but she was quick to act. She e-mailed me and asked if I would put a "box of smiles" together for this woman and send ... Read Full Story >>
Since I have come to any kind of spiritual maturity I have believed we get out of this world what we put into it (... and then some!) Usually, the rewards are indirect and sometimes hard to recognise, but every once in a while what you give comes back to you there and then! A couple of days back my step-son, Josh, was preparing for a big event. Children from his primary school were going for their first trial day at the secondary school, so they would know what to expect when they started after the summer holidays. A big day for an eleven year old lad! I was in the middle of some stuff when I noticed him searching in a clay pot where we keep pens and pencils. In primary school they use pencils, but secondary kids get to write with pens. And Josh was looking for a pen. He came out with ... Read Full Story >>
Last year, I received a satchel of money on the front steps at my home. When that money arrived, I actually was out of town but my family called me and said that there was a lot of money left at the front door with a note. When, I returned home I was touched most by the note, which read, "Thank you for all you do for the world." As I have shared on helpothers.org, I immediately placed all of this money into my sacred fund which keeps coming back to me again and again. All of the work I do which bring gifts of monetary value immediately goes into a fund in my home. This has enabled me to grow the initial gift from the universe of $1000 and I have attracted and given back at least two to three times this. The abundance just keeps going out to ... Read Full Story >>
After 2 false alerts the winter storm advisory today, tonight and tomorrow is real -- snow has been falling and accummulating. And I'm armed! I made sure to put an extra pairs of gloves, 2 ice scraper (small and large), and a small hand held brush for sweeping the snow in the front seat of my car. What I'm also going to do is scout our work parking lot for a secret snow wiping and windshield cleaning, after I leave work. I started this tradition a few years ago when my hubby and I discontinued car pooling. (I did not realize that he spoiled me- I'd sit in the nice, warm truck watching/waiting while he did the cleaning then drove us safely home.) Now I do my own (ugh!). I know how much work it involves, and how cold you can get. So I'm excited to be able to surprise someone with a ... Read Full Story >>
The first week into our recent visit to US while standing in a long check-out line, my daughter, Meera observed, “Mom, most people here seem to be so friendly. They smile even at strangers. Nobody does that in India”. She was right. Subconsciously I had noticed that as well, though had never vocalized it out loud. I asked Meera if she had noticed any similarities amongst people who smiled at her. She thought about it; I thought about it; and we recalled that most often it was the older generation that was more generous with smiles. Also that African-American store employees not just smiled at us, but also added, “How y’all doing today?” or “You have a good day now”. Taking an early morning walk in a park with my sister, I noticed that almost everyone muttered, “Good morning”, or acknowledged us ... Read Full Story >>
I often walk from work (near Pier 39 in San Francisco) to the Embarcadero BART station, where I catch a train back to the East Bay. Several times, I passed a gentleman who I presumed was homeless. He had a lot of his possessions tied down to his bike and held a cardboard sign that said he was a vet who doesn't drink or do drugs, but would appreciate anything that could be given. He usually has headphones on and is listening to the radio. He is always minding his own business, often reading as well. I've never seen him actively "panhandling." Several times, while I was passing him, I realized I had some food with me, so I turned around and offered him that food (most recently, a blueberry muffin). He took off his headphones, and said "Umm, blueberry muffins are my favorite!" with a big smile and a gleam in his eye. ... Read Full Story >>
Life seems to be an untiring teacher. At every turn, in every twist, it holds out a lesson. Is it because we are the typical, indifferent, happy-go-lucky students who forget the lesson the moment the class is over? I wonder. But, whether we like it or not, the teacher teaches us constantly. It is up to us whether we learn or not. The other day, after my morning walk, I stopped my car at a roadside teashop in Secunderabad in India. I like to patronize the small vendors, whether it is the local grocer or the vegetable hawker who sells vegetables from house to house carrying the basket on her head. Or the flower seller on his cycle. My conviction is that my business with them goes a long way for them. The personal relationship built up through daily interaction goes a long way for me. Therefore, the stop at the ... Read Full Story >>
One day I had my youngest daughter, Lauren, out shopping and running errands with me. We were rounding the corner of a fast-food place to pick up something quick to eat, a rare thing for us. There was what appeared to be a homeless man, maybe 65 or so, who had a couple of dogs on wire leashes. He wasn't begging, but he smiled and waved at us. Once we picked up our food, I drove back around and asked him how he was, and said his dogs looked as though they really loved him. He said indeed they all loved each other, then said something like, 'I lost about everything in a fire a few months ago (a building he was squatting in) except for these guys, and I have all I need. But I sure do miss my Bible.' I smiled and waved, and told my daughter that we ... Read Full Story >>
I recently came across 15 Ways to Love Your Neighbor, by Joanne Brokaw. Wonderful ideas! Loving your neighbor doesn't require a huge bank account or selling your possessions and moving to the desert (unless, of course, God is calling you to do that). Here are practical ways you can love your neighbors: 1. Write a note. In these days of electronic communication, receiving a handwritten note is a rare treat. Today, ask God to bring to mind someone who could use a little encouragement. Then take a few minutes to jot a quick note or postcard and drop it in the mail, just letting that person know you're thinking about them. 2. Recycle. If we love God, then we love his creation, and taking care of the earth is one way you can be a good neighbor. You don't have to hug a tree or buy a hybrid, but you should follow your ... Read Full Story >>
Two of my friends and I were coming back from a youth meeting when a woman with three children, who were looking unclean and unkept started speaking to us. She said she and her kids needed money to eat, as they had not eaten since morning and it was already evening. I had three hundred naira with me and I wanted to use it to buy credit to recharge my phone. I was tempted to ignore her and tell her I had no money to spare -- even my two friends told me that we should go and I should not give her anything, that she is a fake, pretentious fellow. But, I decided not to listen to my friends and gave her all the money that I was planning to use to recharge my phone without any hopes of getting more money to top-up my phone for a few days. I was so shocked when I saw the woman burst ... Read Full Story >>
I will never forget a special trip to the grocery store a couple of years ago. My father had just recently passed away. I was missing him terribly and rarely getting through a day without crying. I needed to pull myself together to get some groceries for my husband and young children. As I entered the store, I immediately had to control my emotions as the sweet aroma of my Daddy's favorite cinnamon buns made there at our local grocery store drifted throughout the store. I made my way up and down the busy aisles and filled my cart as I read my list, which I had prepared that morning. I was approaching the in-store bakery when I just couldn't control myself any longer. I held the cart and quietly cried as I looked at the plump, gooey cinnamon buns in the case. An older gentleman came to my side and simply ... Read Full Story >>
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class ... Read Full Story >>
When I first heard about Smile Cards through my pseudo room-mate, I thought it was a brilliantly novel idea - making someone smile and then asking them to do the same for one more person. I tried tagging some people with the cards and only then realised that it is tougher for us by nature to really do something nice. But then once you start, our own expectation rises and what we would have considered nice early on would then become a norm, and thus challenging oneself to go beyond that. I then got the opportunity to ship these Smile Cards to other people like me who wanted to share the smiles. I thought this would be great to do because not only was I 'volunteering' my time, I was also helping make a difference without leaving the confines of my four walls, and so I jumped on the idea. ... Read Full Story >>
There's a woman I work with who is very shy. She doesn't usually share much about herself so I don't know her very well. At the beginning of the week, a group of my co-workers and I were gathered around the water fountain. This woman was there too. Usually she is fairly quiet, but today she was unloading all her woes.....I listened (without interrupting) while she shared her many concerns and life challenges with the group. Some of the group rolled their eyes or tried to change the subject I suspected because they did not want their precious break time spent on someone else's problems. I could tell she was really stressed and disheartened. Even, her appearance spoke volumes - her posture was poor with slumped shoulders, she has deep furrow lines on her forehead, her eyes had no sparkle and she had dark circles. She seemed to be surrounded by ... Read Full Story >>
During my travels over the weekend I was able to give lots of sincere compliments and do little things to make people happy. Just little things like helping a lady open a door or complimenting a friend on her lovely voice.
I had time this weekend to reflect on how different my life is now. It is so strange to know that all this happiness was there, but I just couldn't see it or reach it.
I was afraid to do nice things for people, I don't know why. Maybe because I was shy. I would think of something kind to do, but then talk myself out of it during an internal dialogue in my own mind.
When I joined this site one of the quesitons I asked was, 'Is it being 'holier than thou' to do the act of kindness or should I do it anyway?'
Many gave me wonderful advice and one person wrote 'to do it, but do it humbly'.
I really want to thank all of you on this site.
The maid at the Kingsgate Hotel off Salam Street in Abu Dhabi had outdone even my mother. Every article of clothing had either been placed on a coat hanger or folded neatly, even the socks. The disposable razors and washing gels were lined up like toy soldiers, waiting to do battle. I thanked Agnes profusely, gave her a generous tip and went about my day. Late that evening, when I returned from work, a shiny new alarm clock was on the bedside table. As I had occasionally asked the maid for the time of day, I knew right away what had happened. She had used some of the money I had given her – money she certainly needed for herself or her family back home in the Philippines – and bought the clock. As I hope anyone would have done, I told her she was too kind and returned the ... Read Full Story >>
Last fall, before Thanksgiving, I was making my way in my car out of the shopping center parking lot. I was all alone in the car. I noticed a woman laden with bags and her two boys, one carrying a pumpkin and the other another bag. I assumed that they were headed to the bus stop across the major road, since it was too far to walk with all those purchases to any of the nearby apartment communities. On a random impulse, I rolled down my window and asked if they were indeed headed to the bus stop. “Yes,” the mother responded. I asked "Would you like a ride?" "Oh yes!” was their excited reaction. I was delighted, and, after manoeuvering over to the side out of the way of other traffic, I stopped and the boys piled into the back seat. The mother started to push in beside them. I ... Read Full Story >>
I knew a friend of mine was struggling with work, adult children moving back into the home, and a health concern about his wife.
Last week I called him and left him a voicemail letting him know that I was thinking of him and focusing on a positive outcome for him.
I spoke to him today and he told me that my voicemail brought him so much comfort that he saved it and when things get rough, he listens to it and cheers up.
I'm so humbled by his words and so very grateful that I took a moment to leave him that voicemail. It got me thinking how sometimes we have impulses to reach out to another. At times we follow through, sometimes we get busy and forget.
After hearing his gratitude for my message, I realized I need to pay more attention to those impulses.
Everyday, I read the stories on this website and I am so warmed by all the generous giving and grateful receiving.
Thank you for the inspiration!
You never know where kindness from strangers may appear. The snow started at 4:30 Friday evening and didn’t stop until Saturday evening. Many parts of the northeast received up to 20 inches. I had been snowed in for over 24 hours and was starting to feel cabin fever strike. The shoveling started around 11:00 Sunday morning and after an hour I felt like I had just started. I suffer from scoliosis and was starting to feel the pain so I decided to go in for a bit. Around 2:30 I threw back on my winter gear and headed back outside, thinking to myself: “This is going to take forever and boy am I’m going to be feeling it tomorrow!” In the distance I saw a man riding a small John Deere tracker and attached to the back a snow plow. He stopped and offered to plow the remaining driveway making ... Read Full Story >>
While getting ready for school today, my 16-year-old daughter made a point of coming into my room to give me a big hug and kiss. When I asked her the proverbial question, "What do you want?" she replied, "Nothing momma. You always tell us to have a good day before we leave the house, but I was thinking about who tells you to have a good day and lets you know how much you are loved." I am so touched by the capacity of love and understanding that comes from my children. My 15-year-old son asked me last night if there was a way for him to get a summer job this year in order to help us pay our bills. Unfortunately, in our area, he must be 16. When telling him "no," he said that was ok because he had a lawn mower and as long as the grass grows, he ... Read Full Story >>
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. Try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend." Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be ... Read Full Story >>
"I'm the eldest among us, so you have to let me pay for these tickets! Besides, just one ticket in the States cost more than all three tonight!!" My cousin's wallet hand was faster than mine, pulling out Rs. 520 for three opening night seats to 'Angels and Demons' before I could make good on my intention. "Naaah! Come on- don't worry about it," came the answer. "Ok, but then we have to use this 500 rupees to do something good," I say as I pull out a crisp note. We immediately start trying to figure it out while slowly walking away from the theater. I spot an ice cream vendor selling 10 rupees soft serves not far from us. "Hey, what about ice cream! We could give 50 strangers a cool surprise with this bill. Just random people walking by." "NO! Why?! We should give to someone in need," protested one of my cousins, with ... Read Full Story >>
I met a really nice young couple about a year ago through mutual friends on a social networking site. They have just adopted a baby girl. This is a beautiful gift to the world on its own, but what makes it even more special is how many hoops they jumped through and how much time and money they spent to get to that stage. I was going through some boxes from my mother’s house (she passed away at Christmas time in 2007) and I found some beautiful vintage baby dresses. So I thought, wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if I sent some of this lovely vintage clothing to the couple for their adopted baby? I knew they would love it. This was truly a gift from the heart; I had planned on saving those for my daughter if I had one someday. But, given that my husband died before we had any children, ... Read Full Story >>
I have found that the way I treat insects acts as a reflection of my approach to kindness. Like most kids, I suppose, I mistreated bugs terribly. But many adults continue the rampage against insects, and I have often found that they do this mindlessly, killing them for no reason. With the weather getting warmer, more bugs are getting into our houses. We also spend more time in "their house," as we enjoy the great outdoors. We find ourselves reaching for the fly swatter and insecticides to get rid of them. But why do we do this? Most insects pose no threat to us, but we kill them anyway. As a young adult, I found myself questioning my treatment of bugs. It became a moral issue. I remember reading a Native American story about a mother who saw her daughter stomp on a spider. The mom simply asks the child: "Now who'll take care ... Read Full Story >>