On the Kindness of Strangers

November Gratitude Shorts, Day 3

Today I give thanks for the kindness of strangers.

As I approached the entrance to a building this morning, a young man held the door for me. I walked a good fifteen feet behind him, so I was surprised that he even saw me.  And it was one of those almost awkward moments when he stood there several seconds holding the door—he actually stopped on his way somewhere to be kind to me, a stranger.  I noticed what he was doing and felt happy and warm inside.  Then I panicked just a little—there were 4 shallow steps leading to the door—do I take them two at a time, or shuffle quickly up each one?  What if I trip and fall on the way up, then it’ll be even more awkward, he’ll probably feel obligated to come back out and help me up, maybe regretting that he stopped in the first place…I chose the shuffle option, made it to the door unscathed.  We exchanged smiles, “Thank you,” and “No problem.”  It was just so pleasant!

I love moments like this because they remind me how we are all connected, and how everything we do affects others, no matter how small. I first saw a Travelers Insurance commercial illustrating this in the 1990s. Recently Liberty Mutual (link to the YouTube video) made something similar.  One person shows kindness to a second, a stranger.  This act is witnessed by a third stranger, who later shows kindness to a fourth, which is witnessed by a fifth, etc.  The idea goes one step beyond ‘pay it forward,’ where the person who received the kindness shows kindness to another.  I think we can assume that.  But likely more than one other person witnesses each of these acts, and if they are all inspired to act more kindly toward the next stranger they meet, how brilliant!

Exponential spread of kindness, one small act at a time. Yes.

14 thoughts on “On the Kindness of Strangers

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