“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama
I had an old trench coat that was balled up on the floor of my garage, gathering dust near the washing machine. It was raining. It was unusually cold (for California, anyway).
I was driving home when I saw a man in a short sleeved shirt wandering through our neighborhood, pushing a shopping cart. He was walking painfully slow. He was dripping wet.
I paused at the intersection to my street and watched him for several minutes, thinking. My heart was heavy seeing him move so slowly, so wet, so cold. I suddenly remembered the crumpled-up coat. But what if I needed it sometime in the future? A story I had once heard at a church conference came to mind.
An Inspiring Story of Kindness
Two boys walked down a road that led through a field. The younger of the two noticed a man toiling in the fields of his farm, his good clothes stacked neatly off to the side.
The boy looked at his older friend and said, “Let’s hide his shoes so when he comes from the field, he won’t be able to find them. His expression will be priceless!” The boy laughed.
The older of the two boys thought for a moment and said, “The man looks poor. See his clothes? Let’s do this instead: Let’s hide a silver dollar in each shoe and then we’ll hide in these bushes and see how he reacts to that, instead.”
The younger companion agreed to the plan and they placed a silver dollar in each shoe and hid behind the bushes. It wasn’t long before the farmer came in from the field, tired and worn. He reached down and pulled on a shoe, immediately feeling the money under his foot.
With the coin now between his fingers, he looked around to see who could have put it in his shoe. But no one was there. He held the dollar in his hand and stared at it in disbelief. Confused, he slid his other foot into his other shoe and felt the second coin. This time, the man was overwhelmed when he removed the second silver dollar from his shoe.
Thinking he was alone, he dropped to his knees and offered a verbal prayer that the boys could easily hear from their hiding place. They heard the poor farmer cry tears of relief and gratitude. He spoke of his sick wife and his boys in need of food. He expressed gratitude for this unexpected bounty from unknown hands.
After a time, the boys came out from their hiding place and slowly started their long walk home. They felt good inside, warm, changed somehow knowing the good they had done to a poor farmer in dire straits. A smile crept across their souls.
Inspired by the Story
I drove home, took my coat from the garage, and went looking for the old man in the rain. I spotted him. He hadn’t gone far. The rain had let up some. I pulled up alongside him and asked him to come over.
He hesitated, then walked closer. I asked if he had a place to stay. He said he did and was close. I offered him my jacket. He looked stunned, like I was violating some accepted code of conduct. I urged him to take it. He slowly reached out and took my old coat. He smiled.
So did I.
We all have poor farmers toiling in the fields of their trials and difficulties along the roads of our lives. Their challenges might not be known to us. But their countenances often tell a story of pain. We have opportunities to hide shoes or hide silver dollars in them.
This day, this time, I removed a “silver dollar” from the floor of my garage and slipped it in an old man’s shoe. A life was blessed for having done it. And I think the old man’s life may have been blessed by it as well.
When I hear of stories of kindness being done to others, I’m inspired to do the same. I think most of us are like that. We need each other’s inspiration as we travel life’s highways, trying to figure it all out.
So please share your experiences with us. We need them. They help make us better people.
What acts of kindness have you performed?
What kindnesses by others have blessed your life?
Please share your thoughts.
Photo by eflon
About Ken Wert
Ken Wert is a teacher and personal development blogger at Meant to be Happy where he inspires readers to live with purpose, act with character, think with clarity and grow with courage. Sign up for his free eBook, A Walk Through Happiness and newsletter! Connect with him on Twitter.
In honor of my daughter’s 15th birthday, I would like to repost an essay she wrote last year about kindness. Keri is one of the kindest people I know, and I am so grateful she is my daughter.
“Kindness is like a spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.” -Keri Cuthriell
Kindness by Keri Cuthriell
One thing people today overlook far too much is the simple yet effective act of kindness. In this cold new world overtaken by selfishness and greed is a desperate need for those little acts of care. Just a helping hand or a quick show of compassion can turn another person’s day completely around.
Sometimes even a friendly smile can save a life. People often forget others and become very engrossed in their own problems. This leads to a negative downward spiral and a chain reaction of selfishness. A generation of selfish people is the last thing we need today. Imagine if everybody was willing to be kind and compassionate to each other. If it was not forced, but a habit. This would change the world.
Everyone has experienced difficult times at one time or another when things were not going well and needed an act of kindness to brighten up their day. If it wasn’t for that one person, that one act of kindness, they might not have the life they have today. Remember how effective just the smallest act of kindness can be. Know that you can do this for others. In the long run, you may not be just helping one person but multiple people. Kindness is like the spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.
It’s very important for people to remember that anger is powerful. So is selfishness along with cruelty. However, kindness overpowers all. You may think your kindness makes a difference for other people only, but it doesn’t. What comes around goes around, and your act will be returned. Your most important reward is knowing how much you just helped someone in need. You feel satisfaction knowing that you might have saved someone’s day, week, or even life. What you have really been given is the most precious gift you can receive, the gift of kindness. Everyone is capable of being kind. Everyone can help. The real question is, why don’t we? This should not be a question. Kindness should come automatically. It should be common rather than a rarity. We can make this happen and do something kind today.
“No matter how small, an act of kindness never goes unnoticed.”
Keri, I love who you are. You make the world a better place. Happy Birthday!
Inspirational, Psychology, Relationshipsacts of kindness, Compassion, Kindness, small acts of kindness, the snowball, the snowball effect, treating people with kindness