A Small Act of Kindness

When I was in college, I performed a small act of kindness that changed someone’s life.

Except I didn’t know it at the time.

One day around my third year of college, I was walking from my sorority house to class. I passed a man in his early thirties walking through the same parking lot. Because I am a friendly person, I smiled at him as we passed each other.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this man was at the end of his rope. He had traveled from Thailand, leaving his family behind, to study for his PhD in the United States. He missed his family, he wasn’t making new friends and he needed to find a job. He was on his way to yet another interview when he passed me. The interview was actually at my own sorority house, to work there as a houseman.

As he told my sorority sisters several months later, that smile changed everything. One person had been kind to him. He felt a sense of renewed hope and encouragement. He aced the interview, got the job, went on to get his PhD and then returned home to join his family, later becoming the President of a prestigious university. For years afterward, he sent me an annual card to say thank you and wish me well.

Now this is not a story about how fabulous a person I am. I didn’t even know that I had made an impact on this man at the time. When I found out, I was actually a little uncomfortable and felt undeserving of his gratitude, as my gesture was so small.

But that’s the point.

We often don’t know how the actions we take affect others, like ripples spreading out in a pool of water. Just as a mean driver on the freeway can ruin your day, maybe a random smile you flash at an unhappy stranger could be enough to change their outlook.

Did someone ever make a small gesture that meant the world to you, even if they didn’t know it? Try paying someone an unexpected compliment, opening a door for an elderly person, or smiling at a stranger you pass on the street. You never may know the benefits that a tiny act of kindness can bring.

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5 Responses to A Small Act of Kindness

  1. FreshWisdom says:

    Hey this post is great. All of the big moments we experience are the build up of many “small” moments. I think smallness gets a bad wrap. In the Western culture, we’re conditioned to believe bigger is better. Bigger is not necessarily “bad” but it’s not always better. The small acts of kindness can be extremely powerful. This is a great reminder of that.

  2. FreshWisdom says:

    I just left a comment but I think it didn’t post. What I mostly said is that this post is great. I LOVE the power of small gestures. We in Western culture have been conditioned to believe that “small” equals unimportant. When in fact, all important moments are made of of a number of “small” decisions and actions. This is a great post. Actually, I recall recently at work I was feeling down, and a coworker told me that I have a very pleasant voice. I was made fun of in the past about my voice and although I’m over it now, it’s never been something I’ve looked upon with great fondness. That comment made my day. The point is that our small actions contain such power. Great reminder!

    • Thanks Reggie. So glad you liked the post! I was teased a bit as a child so I can relate to your comments. I’m sure you have a beautiful voice!

      I think your posts didn’t show up because you changed your screen name. They should show up from now on.

  3. Reggie says:

    Also, give an update of the voice over journey when you get a chance!

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