Relationships

11 Reader Comments on Kindness

Lately we’ve been blown away by all the kindness we’ve seen in the reader comments section. In fact, we’ve been smiling and tearing up all week. “Kindness, as it turns out, expands to include…well, everything,” said George Saunders in a 2013 commencement speech. Here are 11 comments that show the good of humankind…

On family traditions:

“My mother came up with a sweet way to ease the ‘at-school homesickness’ I experienced when I was little. When the car pulled up to school in the morning, she’d pull back my sleeve and give me a kiss on my wrist. Mum always wore bright red lipstick to work, which meant that whenever I felt lonely during the school day, all I had to do was roll up my sleeve just a little, and I would see a red lipstick reminder that she loved me and that I was not alone.” — Sarah

“One of the dark arts of being Chinese is to secretly pretend to go to the bathroom at dim sums and pick up the tab for the table. My mum once trumped everyone by putting money down before any other guests arrived, so she paid the bill without even getting up. Everyone was floored. The incident is now described as folklore by family and friends.” — Annie

“When I was in my early 20s and working a low-paying job, my mom and her best friend came to visit. The day they left, I came home after work to find my fridge and cupboards full of food, and several vases of fresh flowers around my apartment. It was like a fairy tale. It’s still one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.” — Emma

On hard times:

“My dad would go to the local bakery almost every morning. Part of his routine was to check in with all the workers, asking them about their families, harassing them in a funny way, or telling them funny jokes. He was *that* guy. When he passed away and it was time to plan the funeral, I set off to the bakery to order a tray of his favorite desserts. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very nice woman. I mentioned my dad’s name, word spread, and soon every one of the women was crying! Each told me stories about my dad — how he would remember their stories, how’d he wear a certain hat every time one of the ladies was working because he knew it was her favorite color, how my dad put new tires on someone’s car when she couldn’t afford to buy them. (My dad was a tire salesman.) When it came time to complete the order, the women said, ‘This is on all of us. We loved your dad.’ I was speechless.” — Julia

“We were taking our toddler daughters on a long flight. Shuttling the kids through baggage check and security, I forgot to buy milk. The airline didn’t serve milk on board, and my husband wondered if we could get by with coffee creamers (gotta love that fatherly ingenuity!). Finally, as we were sitting down (and my oldest was biting my arm for no obvious reason besides toddlerhood), the flight attendant came back with a pint of milk. ‘The captain got it for you,’ she said. Reader, I squeaked out a ‘thank you’ and immediately started crying. It was a small reminder when I needed it that we’re not islands, that the world is kind, that parenting is for all of us.” — Anna

On being a good neighbor:

“At the end of my maternity leave with my first child, I ran into a neighbor in our building’s lobby. We weren’t close but I found myself awkwardly gushing about my anxiety about returning to work the following morning. The next day, as I came down the stairs, I found a note taped to our building door with my name on it. My neighbor had left me a ‘back to work’ pep talk that made me laugh and smile. To this day, I keep it in the console of my car and whenever I feel sad about leaving my kids to go to work, I take it out and think of her and her kind gesture.” — Rebekah

On traveling around the world:

“When I was studying abroad, two of my female friends and I were eating at a restaurant in Rome. A couple in the restaurant noticed us enjoying our meal and that we were young and choosing the cheapest drinks/food, and decided to send a bottle of wine we probably wouldn’t have bought ourselves over for us to enjoy. We ended up combining tables with them and sharing a second bottle while walking together to the Trevi Fountain. To this day my girlfriends and I still talk about that night, and it all started with such a sweet gesture from strangers!” — Allison

“I was working in Europe as a humanitarian aid and was traveling to Switzerland. I was exhausted, dirty and running a high fever. I was running through the train station in Zurich when my sleeping bag unhooked from my bag and dropped onto the floor. I scrambled around trying to roll it back up, but I wound up missing the train. I immediately broke down and just wrapped myself in my sleeping bag. All of a sudden, a young Swiss guy appeared with two cups of tea. He sat down with me and offered a cup. I was stunned! We chatted, shared some tea, and he helped me find another train. I will be forever grateful to him for making me feel so welcomed when I felt so alone.” — Caitlyn

On gifts from afar:

“My sister tipped me off to this modern day practice: the random Venmo. I’ve sent my sister-in-law coffee money when she started a new residency rotation, my little sister beer money when she was going out at night, and my big sister ‘kid-free breakfast’ money when her twins started preschool.” — Kate

“I got mugged a few years ago. It was scary and my purse and phone were taken at a time when money was tight. My best friend from the other side of the country ordered flowers to my office and in the florist’s neat, cursive handwriting she had written out the note, ‘Sorry that shithead stole your phone.’ Still makes me laugh. — A.

“I went to Maui for my 50th birthday, but it was during a tough time. The trip was supposed to be with my boyfriend, but we had broken up right beforehand. Luckily, a dear friend came with me, which was wonderful in and of itself. And when we went out for my birthday dinner, the server came over with a bottle of Champagne and a sweet note from a group of my closest friends. They had sent the Champagne and taken care of dinner. I burst into tears! It was a loving and beyond thoughtful gesture. Even though they couldn’t make it to Hawaii, I knew they were with me.” — Ela

How has someone shown kindness to you lately?

P.S. More amazing reader comments and a small kindness I’ll never forget.

(Photo from Insecure.)

  1. Kelly says...

    I was so inspired by these comments – and then how others reading the comments were in turn inspired to bring more kindness to people in their lives. It reminded me to bring attention back to a generosity practice in my own life. I wanted to share this resource – has tons of ideas of ways to be generous. I think I’m going to start and slowly work through it!
    http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2013/09/05/50-ways-to-be-ridiculously-generous/

  2. NK says...

    I come back to this CoJ article every six months of so:
    https://cupofjo.com/2018/04/small-kindnesses/

    I love how the author describes her story, but also how on a particularly raw day, you need to be kind to yourself. This concept has really lifted me up this past year, and in turn, made me kinder to others.

    On days that I cannot necessarily “give” something to others, I just try to smile and really look people in the eye. Share a moment, a knowing glance, or even some empathy. It goes so far. <3

  3. Lauryn says...

    I am so happy to come across this post today. I struggle with severe anxiety and am leaving tomorrow for Italy for a family vacation. While it sounds fun, I have mountain anxiety about travel and am convinced of my own unavoidable death and really struggling to not have those anxious thoughts. This post came exactly at the right time and has re-directed my thoughts in a positive way. Acts of kindness was something I learned through a research study that helps with feelings of anxiety and depression. Thank you CoJ for posting. Today is my friend’s birthday so I was inspired and just sent her a surprise Venmo to treat herself to a birthday coffee :)

  4. Jane says...

    Two days after birth, I was readmitted to the hospital with post-partum preeclampsia. Right during the nightly nursing shift change, I had the highest blood pressure reading I’d had since I arrived back in the hospital, and it pushed me into a straight up panic attack. I will never – ever – forget the nurse who came on shift right then. She walked right over to my bed, grabbed both of my arms, put her face close to mine and said “my name is Dania, I am here with you, I am staying with you, and nothing bad will happen to you on my watch.” Her calm, her strength, and her incredible certainty was exactly what I needed in that terrifying moment. I hugged her way too hard and sobbed on to her shoulder. She was a complete stranger. Nurses are amazing.

  5. Cindylou says...

    These are so great, I felt compelled to add my own.
    Two years ago my brother committed suicide. I was devastated to say the least. I was also going through a divorce at the time. The day after my brother died, I called my best friend and asked her if there was any chance she was available as I didn’t want to be alone. The said she would call me back shortly. It turned out she had a houseguest at the time, but she made arrangements to come be with me. We went shopping, she bought me an outfit for the memorial service, we talked into the evening, she took me to dinner and just gave me all of her attention. We have been friends for more than 40 years, and she has always been kind to me, but she went above and beyond the call this time, and it stands out as one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.

  6. Michelle says...

    Last year, I was waiting in line to go to a climate rally. My friends had arrived earlier, so they were close to the front of the line. I didn’t want to cut in line, so I waited at the back. I met this older couple (for reference I was nineteen), who I chatted with in line. We were in line together for a few hours and the husband went to grab his wife and himself coffee and doughnuts from Tim Horton’s. I wasn’t expecting him to get me anything, but he came back with coffee and doughnuts for all of us. It made my day :)

  7. Allie says...

    I was in my early twenties and doing some volunteer work in Ukraine. (I hadn’t been home in nearly 18 months.) I was on a bus with a couple other women my age, when a few drunk men started harassing us. We had to get off the bus early so they wouldn’t know which stop we lived at. We trudged through the neighborhood, feeling pretty victimized and low about the general sh*tty way people treat each other, when a group of little kids ran up to us. They presented each of us with a long-stemmed red rose, gabbed with us for a minute, and then took off running and laughing. We didn’t know them, but whatever game they were playing turned our day around and refilled our low reserves of hope for humankind.

  8. Alex says...

    I was living in Istanbul for a few months doing research, when I got incredibly sick. After a few days of trying to rough it out in my apartment, I finally decided I had to go to the hospital. I flagged a cab, and on the ride to the hospital, the cabbie figured out I was alone and sick and he endeavored to do something about it. He parked his cab out front of the hospital, walked me in, and then barked orders at the hospital staff. He refused to take my money, and left his phone number with both me and the nurse so that there was someone I could rely on to get me home once I was better. I wound up having an infection and once diagnosed, like clockwork he showed up to make sure I got home in one piece. At a time when I felt so alone, I will never forget his kindness.

  9. EJ says...

    I was 23, working at my first real job when I got a call from my father that my uncle very unexpectedly passed away. In major crisis moments my family is great at springing into action and dealing with feelings later, and so it was my job to head to my old high school to sign my baby brother out of school and break the news to him. I got to the school and told the administrative officer (a very stoic former cop who I knew from my hs days) what happened, and he walked me to where my brother was and helped me get him out of gym class. I told him the high-level details, he solemnly nodded and said he had to gather his stuff from the locker room. The admin officer waited a beat, then followed him into the locker room. A few minutes later they came back out, my brother crying and wiping his eyes, with the admin officer’s arm around his shoulder and reassuring him.
    My brother and I still talk about it in disbelief. “Can you believe I cried in front of him??” “Can you believe he HUGGED you?!” It meant so much.

  10. T says...

    Oh… i came here to read these comments, because they are all so beautiful, but now i’m just crying!

    • Daisy says...

      To me, my mom was the epitome of Kindness. She would go out of her way to be kind and help out people. One thing that still stands out in my memory is that, during a hot summer day, we had a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman knock our door for a demo. My mom took a look at him and told him that she can’t buy his stuff but will offer him lunch instead. She served him a proper lunch and I am sure her kindness that day kept him going for some more time. My mom passed away tragically when she was only 48 and my way of dealing with that pain was to block out her memories. I have been trying to jog my memory and was telling this story to my sister recently. She did not have any memory of it. I can only hope that set up an example for my son like how my mom did for us.

  11. Jen says...

    When I had a broken leg and was manoeuvring as fast as possible through a train station, laden with bags, I realised my other shoe lace was undone. This almost undid me – it was the final straw and I just stood there looking at my foot wondering how I would put all these bags down and then pick them back up with crutches, how I would reach my foot, how I would stand back up… A stranger walked over, knelt down in front of me, and tied my shoelace.

  12. Ana says...

    Many years ago I was behind a young mother with twin babies at the supermarket. When it came time to pay she couldn’t find her wallet and was scrambling around in her bag looking really stressed. I paid for her groceries and she took my details (even though I didn’t expect or want to be paid back). I didn’t hear from her and life went on. About 7 years later I was at a shopping mall now with my two young children and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a woman thrust some money into my hand. It was the same lady with her now much bigger twins! She told me at that time she was going through a really painful divorce and just not coping but she’d never forgotten that moment. I wouldn’t have been able to pick her out in a crowd but it remains one of my most special memories.

    • M says...

      This gave me chills head to toe! ♥️

    • Karen says...

      WONDERFUL CHILLS!! omgoodness!!

  13. Laura says...

    These posts are so heartwarming and inspiring to read!

    Five years ago I was backpacking on my own for a few weeks and I was very anxious about getting sick while on my own. It happened when I was in Rome; I must have eaten something bad and I had woken up sick to my stomach in the night. I was supposed to leave Rome the next day and go to my next place in Venice. I wasn’t well enough to go, but there wasn’t room for me to stay in my dorm room another night. The hostel staff offered to rent me a vacant private room for half the price, and my mom sent me the money I needed to cover the extra room cost. The hostel staff brought me some breakfast to my room after breakfast hours ended, and I spent the rest of the day laying on the cold tile floor. I had to notify my AirBnB host in Venice that I would be a day late, and he offered to meet me at the train station so I wouldn’t have to find my way to the AirBnB. I still remember how much the combined kindness of these people made me feel less alone.

  14. Molly says...

    This was so inspiring! Thanks for sharing. And the international stories reminded me of when a big group of us (college students studying abroad) were in the UK and needed to find the other train station in Glasgow. We asked this older man and he insisted on walking us there and then bought us all coffee and told us a bit about his work as a bagpipe instructor (I shit you not). Now I want to go do something randomly nice!

  15. R says...

    Oh, reading these is so lovely. I’ll add a few of mine.

    I recently had major, major hip surgery. My pelvis was broken several times, and I knew what to expect as I had the other hip done last year, but the pain is truly unbearable. As I woke up from the anesthesia, I was in so much pain and all I could do was sob violently. For some reason I can’t remember, I needed to wait for pain medication. My nurse asked me what my pain level was, and I said nine. She said, “oh, honey, don’t you lie to me. People at a nine, they’re still playing on their phones. You’re a 12 and you can tell like it’s a 12. She then proceeded to massage my scalp and hair for at least twenty minutes when I was calm and my iv meds could be administered. She also held me four days later, as I cried upon hearing my grandmother had passed. I won’t be able to walk for months so I can’t attend the funeral and it was a hard blow. She is an absolute angel, I swear it.

    And last week, my husband had to travel for work, and he purchased me some chocolate truffles for me to enjoy during recovery. He was in the airport and saw a young woman whose boyfriend was breaking up with her and being quite unkind (wishing her plane would crash and she would die). After, he gave her his spare phone charger, as she had none, and (with my permission) gave her my chocolates. He also helped her get a new ride home, upgraded her flight and the ladies at the ticket counter were so kind to also give her a voucher for a free vacation without “you know who”, as they put it. I’ve been thinking of that woman all week and I hope she is okay. And I am so thankful I married one of the good ones!

  16. Emma says...

    I had a surprise appendectomy (I guess they’re all surprises) and I have two little kids. My oldest friend came to see me the day after I got home. I was having a tough time recovering. She showed up with flowers, dinner, and best of all she played with my daughter for an hour. My daughter was in heaven making clay donuts and I was so touched by her kindness right when I needed it.

  17. Amber says...

    Years ago, I worked as an Onboard HR Manager on a cruise line and for the start of a new contract, was to join the ship in Freeport, Bahamas. The ship was in wet dock for repairs and as it was only my second contract, I had no real idea of what to expect. I arrived at the wet dock with my 2 big, heavy suitcases to be confronted with the sight of a big ship raised almost completely out of the water at a great height with an endless flight of stairs to reach it!! While I was standing there trying to figure out how I would get my weighty bags up Mount Everest, a young English guy in a construction uniform, literally whizzed past me, grabbed one of my suitcases in his right hand and with the left, motioned me to the base of the stairs. Off he went, with just a quick instruction to me to stay right there. Then he flew back down the stairs, grabbed my second suitcase and asked me to follow. He sped ahead while I.panted after him. As soon as we reached the top, he gave me a quick smile and was gone before I could do more than call out a thank you! The next day i was thrilled to see him in the corridor and went over to properly thank him. He wouldn’t let me say more than a few words, just said it was no problem at all then winked and asked if I had stones in those suitcases and was gone! I have never forgorren his kind gesture.

    • Amber says...

      *Forgotten

  18. penny says...

    When i was 20 years old I misjudged how fast a small truck was coming through an intersection, went to turn and we collided. It ended up being a fairly low speed collision but I was really shaken, I got out of the car and stood on the footpath, a lady got out of her car , came over and gave me a huge tight hug – she held me til I was ok – it was so so lovely and I’ll never forget it! It was a pretty busy intersection so she could have easily kept driving on her way but she chose to stop. :-)

  19. Harini says...

    First time commenting. Thank you so much for this post. You brought tears to my eyes. There is kindness in our hearts. May we be brave to share it with others. These days where bad news and mean-spirited comments are trending, am thankful for these kind comments. Bravo, Cup of Jo. Much love to you. I always look forward to read your thoughtful posts.

  20. Monica says...

    Some of the biggest acts of kindness I’ve received have been since I’ve become a mother. My first child had terrible reflux, which meant we were all constantly covered in spit up. Before her first flight, we were oh-so-frazzled at the airport. My husband got in line at the gate to get us seats while I waited until the last minute to board. Of course she promptly spit up ALL over me the moment he was out of sight. The most glamorous woman silently came up, grabbed the burp cloth hanging out of my bag, cleaned me up, and walked away with a smile. I will never, ever forget her kindness in a moment where I felt so overwhelmed (and just plain gross).

  21. Tricia says...

    I was hit by a car when I was walking across a crosswalk. I called a dear friend to let her know I needed some help. She came to my home with clean flannel sheets. She made my bed up, tucked me in, drove with my son to our favorite restaurant and brought back dinner. She came again and again as I recuperated. She did my laundry, took my son back to school shopping and brought groceries. She wouldn’t let me pay her back. It’s been 13 years and I still sleep on those flannel sheets every winter. They represent love, friendship and the most gracious kindness.

  22. Mindy says...

    When my sister passed away almost two years ago, my wonderful friends/coworkers, Ariege and Kristin, sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers AND a huge box of books and toys to my mom and dad’s house to keep my daughter entertained while we were busy with funeral preparations. I still don’t know how they got the address. It was such a thoughtful thing to do for me and my family at a very difficult time.

  23. Kelly says...

    I’m an international high school counselor and one of our seniors whose mom (another staff member I consider a friend) is in the hospital. Being her only relative in the country, and 18, he was given a lot of responsibility during the stay. Two of his friends (both male) knew the key code to his apartment and made dinner for him and had it waiting on the table when he got home. My job can make me sad but it can also fill me with such joy and it’s such a privilege that I get to hear about these amazing acts of kindness. It totally brightened my day. Teenagers are such lovingly tender almost adults.

  24. Dawn says...

    When I was in my early 20s I was working out of town when a man made an aggressive pass at me. I fled from the building and stood sobbing on a sidewalk in the middle of an unfamiliar city. A teenage boy who looked like he had just walked out of basketball practice gently approached me and asked if I was ok. I could barely speak through my sobs and don’t remember what I actually said to him. He proceeded to carry my bag and walk me to the nearby police station. Now when I think about that day I don’t think of the man who attacked me, but of the kind and gentle teenage boy who took action when most would not. I have always wanted to thank his parents for raising one of the good ones.

  25. Katie says...

    I was studying abroad, and my host family’s home caught on fire in the middle of the night. Believe me, you just run out of a house on fire. You don’t think to put on shoes, and I found myself sitting on the curb shivering in the middle of the night. Once the neighbors realized what was going on, a woman invited me into her home and gave me socks, shoes, and some warm pants. Another neighbor let me make a long-distance phone call (this was before cell phones!) so I could tell my family what happened. Thankfully no one was hurt. I was blown away by the kindness of strangers and remember it like it was yesterday over twenty years later.

  26. Perla says...

    5 years ago I was coming back from my father’s funeral on a Sunday morning. That day I took a taxi to the airport , all dressed in black .I was late for my flight .no check in.Nothing .i panicked. I got to the first airport employee i could see .this man didn’t work for the same company but when he heard that i was in the country for my father’s funeral , managed to get me on the plane .he stayed with me until i got to the gate .i was the last person to get on the plane .to this day his kind gesture makes my heart swell

  27. Earlier this year, I had to endure a relatively minor, yet difficult surgery and two days later ended up in the ER with a complication. When I entered the waiting room in unbearable pain, unable to sit or relax for even a second due to intense discomfort, I walked to the far corner of the room to be away from anyone else, so no one would see me as I started to break down sobbing. When the admitting nurse came over to put the paper information band around my wrist, I officially lost it and she asked me in the sweetest, most gentle voice if I was ok. When I shook my head no and the only words I could manage to speak were “I’m in so much pain”, she asked if she could give me a hug. I was so overwhelmed by everything during that time, and unable to focus on anything except the physical pain, but for a brief moment she made me feel safe and comforted in one of the bleakest moments I’ve endured. I was admitted just moments later, and her small gesture, gentleness, and compassion towards me helped get me through the next few hours until I was released. By then, she was nowhere to be found in the waiting room; otherwise I had planned to give her another big hug and thank her for her kindness.

    • Sarah Metcalfe says...

      This is so lovely ❤️

  28. Marissa says...

    The first thing that comes to mind is the doorman at the nursing home where my dad has been staying for months during a terminal neurological diagnosis. There’s a not-quite-complicated sign-in process you must complete on an iPad before you can enter, but it’s still a mild annoyance during an obviously emotional part of my day. Sometimes, the doorman waves me in without having to sign in. I didn’t realize it consciously until now, but that small kindness he affords me means so much, a small relief when there are already so many little tasks that need doing.

  29. Denise says...

    I had just read the article and started on the comments when my girlfriend messaged our group that she was in traffic on her way to a much needed counseling appointment and was stressed and scared she’d be late. The seven of us are incredibly close, but live all over the country, so it’s hard when you just want to give someone a hug. I Venmoed her $20 and told her to get some coffee, or a drink, or a snack and that I love her and can’t wait to see her in a week. About ten minutes later, I got a simple text “I love you”. Thank you Cup of Jo!!

    • Perla says...

      I am officially crying at 1:21 am reading your comment !

  30. Cat says...

    I truly feel that these comments should be made into the most beautiful, uplifting, poignant coffee table ever published.

    I love this blog & I love this post & comments the most.

    Happy Friday one and all :)

    • Cat says...

      Agh – coffee table BOOK! Though a coffee table with some of these stories inscribed would be very cool too…

    • Ellen says...

      Here here! The comments on kindness and simple pleasures would be such a treasure to have as a book!

    • Katie says...

      I completely agree! Would love this book.

    • Donna says...

      COJ yes please! I will ore-order it!

  31. Natasha says...

    My mom passed away a few years ago (though still feels like yesterday) very unexpectedly. It was a really tough loss for all of us, but also for the community. She was a cardiologist, and she used to say that she helped heal the heart, both physically and emotionally.
    One day, a few months after she passed, I was on my linkedin page, when a message popped up. It was from a man who owned a store in our town. He wrote to say that my mom meant so much to them because she helped them get pregnant a few years ago. Turns out, she used to go over there every day and help with his wife’s IVF injections.
    I can’t tell you what that note did to me. Apart from breaking down, it reminded me that my mom lived on in her actions and that people hadn’t forgotten her or my grief and loss. I will forever be grateful to that family for the solace they gave me that day.

    • Lara says...

      Your mom had a golden heart … may she rest in peace
      If you were here with me I would have hugged you very tight

    • Amber says...

      Major lump in my throat. What a treasure your Mom was.

  32. Abby says...

    The summer before my freshman year in high school, I was starting a brand new school and was completely overwhelmed (and utterly anxiety ridden) by all of the summer reading I had to complete. My father said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll read the first book too.” It took me a long time to realize what a sweet gesture that was and over 20 years later, he and I still make references to Alas Babylon — especially if we run out of coffee ;)

  33. Maggie says...

    My father passed away unexpectedly when I was living on my own, away from my family. I spent a few weeks back at home with my family but eventually, had to return to my reality. When I arrived, I found that my condo had been professionally cleaned and my fridge and cupboards were stocked with essentials and some treats. My friends organized together to make my condo a welcome place to come back to (no rotting food in the fridge or dead flowers to deal with). As if that wasn’t enough, my closest friends arranged to take turns staying over at my place for the first week I was back so I wouldn’t feel those depths of loss all alone. It was so kind and had such a lasting impact on me.

    Also, my boss at the time arranged to fly two of my co-workers, who were also good friends, to my hometown for the day, to attend the funeral. Having them there for that personal and painful ceremony actually made the transition back to work more comforting. I’m telling you – People are wonderful!

    Thank you for this post CoJ!

  34. Silvia Garcia says...

    I am crying at work reading all of these beautiful things and I am so thankful for posts like these because they make me reflect and remember the times when people were kind to me in a world where the cruelty seems to be amplified all the time.
    I remembered the first time I travelled alone to Paris and made the beginners mistake of bringing a huuuge suitcase and as I was trying to get up the stairs on the metro to my airbnb i just couldn’t manage the weight and a random parisian woman just, without even saying anything, bent down next to me and grabbed the other end of my luggage nodded at me and we walked up the stairs together. it was such anice welcome to a foreign country .

  35. Amy says...

    In 2008 my roommate and I (age 20) were traveling in Europe for six weeks and ended up on a small island in Greece. We had booked a room in a tiny family hotel on the island, but the island didn’t seem to have any signs on the roads (no smartphone or maps available, just the info we’d gotten on the internet at the previous hostel). As we were trying to navigate the sporadic Greek bus system on the island, a girl our age saw us and realized we were completely lost. She called the hotel on our phone, spoke to them in Greek, and took us in her car to the hotel (she got lost too and had to call them again to navigate, which made us feel a little less incompetent haha). We tried to tuck gas money in her car when she wasn’t looking as the economy on that island was terrible, but she noticed and insisted on giving it back.
    We were so grateful for her taking charge after weeks of us navigating an unfamiliar part of the world; her willingness to suddenly take an hour out of her day to drive strangers to their hotel was astounding!

    • Cat says...

      The exact same thing happened to us in Mongolia! Incredible.

  36. MM says...

    Reading these comments inspired me to order lunch for the two men who are working hard to install a fence at our new house today. I took a few minutes to make things extra nice: tidied up the porch, poured waters and sodas into glasses with lots of ice (with a Brita pitcher for refills!), cut up fresh fruit, and set out our nicest plates, silverware, and cloth napkins. When I told them pizza and salad was ready for them on the porch- please take a break and rest- they were in total disbelief. They kept saying “are you serious? I’m blown away. Really?? Wow.” I can hear their silverware clinking against plates while I work in our bedroom, and it’s giving me the biggest smile.

    My husband left for a business trip this morning and I was bummed and missing him. It totally turned my day around to do something of service for others, and was a much-needed reminder that esteemable acts are what build self-esteem!

    • Sarah Maher says...

      You are the sweetest!!

    • mym says...

      Love love love this!

    • AMK says...

      Kindness is contagious. What a wonderful thing to do.

    • Amber says...

      Love this!

    • Bonnie says...

      A delayed comment here but what a wonderful gesture, MM! You’re a treasure.

  37. Megan Raitano says...

    Took inspiration from this post and surprised some friends who had a health scare this week with porch dinner last night. They were so surprised and touched – thank you for reminding us all to put more good out into the world

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, megan :)

  38. alexis says...

    I love this post, and all these comments so much, and it has motivated me to be more intentional about spreading kindness too. Last night after reading the comments for a bit, I wrote an email to a friend who had just gotten some difficult news (instead of just putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, I made sure I spent some time to tell her just how great I think she is) and, inspired by some of the comments here, I sent a surprise venmo to a friend who’d texted to say she’d had a challenging day with her kid and told her post-bedtime beers were on me. Thank you to everyone here for sharing their light.

  39. My grandfather was a man of few words. When they were both getting older in their 90s, we got my grandparents a life alert system to call 911 in case something happened to them. My grandfather had started to decline mentally so we went through some scenarios with him to teach him how and when to use the alert button. We asked him “what would you do if you came into the kitchen and you saw grandma on the floor?” to which he answered “I would lie down next to her.”

    It was the wrong answer but it was so right. He was such a kind man, and he loved his wife more than anything.

    • Siobhan says...

      Oh I’m crying at this, so beautiful! Sounds like a lovely man and a wonderful relationship!

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my goodness. My heart just swelled a bit reading this. True love.

    • Nora says...

      Oh this is so sweet. I’m crying thinking of this lifetime of love. Of course, you would lie next to her.

    • penny says...

      tears! so divine

  40. Joslyn says...

    While on vacation in Hawaii with my then boyfriend, he unexpectedly broke up with me. Not knowing what to do, I decided to go to the movies so I could be alone and cry. I booked the next movie and walked in to what I thought was an empty theater. Halfway through the movie as I was sobbing, a rather large Hawaiian man who was apparently sitting in the row behind me, got up, sat down one seat away from me and wordlessly placed a Kleenex box in the seat between us. We never talked, but I used up about half of his tissue box and have never forgotten that kindness.

    • Lara says...

      Silent kindness .I love that!
      I love to believe that people DO care

  41. Nicole says...

    Ah, these are so lovely. Thank you for sharing, and for creating such a space of kindness on the web- often a place of such anonymous cruelty.

    I frequently find myself coming back to something you quoted on CoJ (though I don’t remember the source)- “how tender can you bear to be?” I think of it often, both when I am feeling so grateful for others’ and especially when I am feeling annoyed or irritable. Such a good reminder to always chose kindness.

    • Nicole says...

      Darn it! *choose.

  42. On October 9th i celebrated my birthday. My surprises started from early morning. Some friends of mine living in the Caribbean got together and sent me a birthday greetings via video on whatsapp. I live in New York. I was so blown away with this out of the world surprise. My other surprise came from a nursing home i helps out at times the owner got some of the patients and employees together they called me on whatsapp and sang happy birthday i was blown away. During the day my girlfriend insisted I’m not staying home and she took me out for lunch then she got three of the staff members to sing happy birthday to me with cake then she handed me a gift. Last night surprisingly my niece called me and said come down stairs i live in an apartment when i got down stairs she handed me a gift of homemade cake a bottle of wine and ice cream. I am soo grateful to god for all the Wonderful people in my life who made my birthday soo special. I’m still in awwww.
    Bernadette

  43. Emily says...

    This is such a lovely space and I truly have so much kindness in my life that I’m grateful for. But this also makes me feel lonely. I live far from my family and most of my college friends — and as an adult (in my mid-twenties), friendships so far just feel different and less close. I wonder if you could do a post on making deep friendships as an adult, or how to feel socially connected without a ‘group’ or best friend? It’s hard to think about big life changes that may come up in the future and not know who I could really turn to or rely on. I think this is a huge problem for my generation and I for one could use some guidance! thanks and sending hugs to anyone who needs one. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, absolutely! i think so, so many people struggle with this. thank you for your lovely note, emily.

    • LARISSA says...

      Emily – I’m so glad you shared this! I have also been longing for the kind of post you’ve described. I’ve been feeling increasingly anxious about the changes in my social circle: friends have moved without staying in touch, I changed jobs for more work-life balance but am now isolated in my new role, and my family is all over the place – both emotionally and physically. I feel totally overwhelmed when I think of who I can turn to, aside from my loving boyfriend who I feel extremely grateful for. It’s hard to imagine having kids or making big moves without a solid social support network. I haven’t celebrated a birthday or holiday with a group of friends in years!

      I never could have predicted feeling this way in my mid-twenties and it tears me up. I’m constantly looking back to figure out if I went wrong somewhere. All this to say, I hear you and I’m with you. I so appreciate your honesty. Sending hugs right back and I’m hoping we will eventually find a way through.

    • Katie says...

      I feel this too and would love a post on making strong friendships as an adult – particularly when you move to a new city and have to essentially start over.

    • Anna says...

      This post and the comments have made me smile and cry at the same time. We all have the power to be kind and thoughtful; the impact is beautiful.

      Emily, my sister and I were just discussing your post and we feel the same. As we get older, with friends & family possibly living all over the country and around the world, we sometimes aren’t able to or it’s difficult to access the social groups that come with work, family situations, interests etc. Sometimes the people in the places we live have lived there all their lives, already have their circle of friends and are not so welcoming.

      We know the benefits of human connection, and just wanted to say I’m with you. Sending best wishes x

    • LK says...

      I am lucky that in my early 30’s, I have made so many connections with my neighbors, dog park people, and gym people that I hope will last many years. When things were looking bleak with my own friend group (everyone was too busy, or moved far) I became friends with a couple neighbors. Their proximity allows us to make on-the-fly plans and hang out last minute, in our PJs. It has changed my life.

      The same is true for dog park/gym friends – because they tend to live closer to me, their friendships are easier and in some cases more helpful (“Can you walk my dog for me tomorrow night”?) creating a community that doesn’t necessarily exist with my other friends.

      It also makes it easier to make new friends – if I meet a new person at the gym, I can introduce them to other people I know in our class. Having this network makes introductions easy!

    • Libby says...

      Right there with you, Emily. I could never have imagined that it would be such a lonely thing to move back to my hometown in my mid-30s, leaving a dear community of friends in another city. I try to remind myself that it took a while to create that community, so it will take time here, too. Sending good wishes for new friendships to you!

    • Alex says...

      Emily, I am right there with you. I had this realization a few years ago that you grow up spending so much time with your friends… but after college, the people you spend most of your day with are no longer your closest friends (unless you have awesome coworkers!). The people I would consider my closest friends are no longer close in proximity, and I really feel that lacking in my daily life. But making new, close friends as an adult is hard!

    • Lauryn says...

      I agree with this and would also be very interested in a post like this! If you want to be internet friends, I am available to be a friend :)

  44. Margaret O’T says...

    I lost my dad last summer and in January was in a bookstore looking for the grief section. An employee showed me to the two high shelves with the selection. A few minutes later he came back and quietly offered me a step stool saying he hoped I could take my time looking more comfortably. As I’m only 5’0 and could barely reach the books on my tip toes it was an extremely kind and thoughtful gesture very much appreciated by an already flustered and emotional twenty five year old on a sad errand.

    • Whitney says...

      I lost my dad less than a week ago to cancer. He didn’t want a traditional funeral, so we did a burial ceremony. I was making my way through the crowd talking to loads of family and his friends, feeling emotional but holding back tears. I look up and see three of *my* friends walking into the cemetery. They had never met my dad, live hours away, and had already offered so much support. I was holding back the tears really well up until I saw them and burst into tears. I hugged them and sobbed. I have never had many close girl friends up until these ladies entered my life 4 years ago. You know you have real friends when their *husbands* take a Wednesday off of work to watch their kids so they can come to your Dad’s funeral. I sobbed. so kind.

    • Georgie says...

      Whitney, I’m so sorry about your dad. When my dad died when I was 18, three of my friends did exactly the same thing. His funeral was the 23rd of December, miles away from where we lived, near my grandmother’s house so she could come. I still can’t believe that they paid for last minute flights, two days before Christmas, to go to the funeral of a man they barely knew, just to support me. It made everything about that day just so much easier. Anyway, thinking of you. Xx

  45. Rue says...

    Just here to fangirl about George Saunders. His article about traveling to Dubai in 2005 is something I reread annually or so. If you thought you loved the last page of the The Great Gatsby, wait till you read the last paragraph of this essay. Ugh.

    https://www.gq.com/story/george-saunders-on-dubai

    • CEW says...

      He is my favourite living writer by far. The way he articulates the good and bad and sad and horrible and confusing feelings we have minute to minute in our lives just blows me away. (The Falls is proooobably my favourite short story by him? Maybe? An impossible choice.)

  46. Ellen says...

    I am struck by how a small act of kindness can stay with the recipient and change not just their day, but often their outlook on life. I’m so excited by this perspective! As I read each story I wished that the kind stranger was able to know their impact. I want everyone to know, on levels great and small, we can all make a difference!

  47. L says...

    When my second child was a tiny baby, I took her to our local bakery to get bread and a coffee. I was so tired – no sleep! – and overwhelmed – a two-year-old and a colicky infant!- and I was looking forward to a hot, delicious drink. As I put my daughter back into her car seat, I put the coffee on the roof of the car. And as I closed the door, the coffee flew off the car and landed in the street. I remember staring at it for a few seconds, numb, way too exhausted to haul a baby back into the bakery. I got into the driver’s seat and just sat there. Suddenly there was a tap on the window. A woman said, “I’ll go get you a coffee. Do you take cream?” I nodded and then burst into tears. She said, “I have kids too.” I still get teary thinking of it, and I always keep an eye out for parents who having a hard moment. The smallest thing can be the biggest help.

    • Julie says...

      It is amazing the things mothers will do for each other. We are all part of the same team! I bet that was the best coffee you have ever tasted :)

    • AH says...

      Baaah cue the tears!!

    • Sera says...

      New mom. Sobbing…

    • cheli says...

      omg this is just… nursing and sobbing here

  48. patricia blaettler says...

    I worked in the city and my husband worked nights and slept days so we had a wonderful nanny who raised our 2 little boys for a few years. A neighbor stopped and told us how beautiful they were to see out and about in the village and that they all looked so happy. That was pretty great to hear. I’m sure it was a throw-away comment to them, but I still remember it 25 years later.

  49. Grace says...

    I work at a Catholic school and we recently had a priest come in and give us a pep talk before the beginning of the school year. He said to us, “most of the world’s problems could be solved if everyone were more gentle with each other.”. What a profound statement! I have tried to execute that as often as possible. Instead of slamming on my car horn when someone cuts me off, I just let it go, and assume the best for them. We all make mistakes, we all could use mercy and kindness in our every day lives. Let’s spread it around. Be the change you want to see in the world.

    • Misha says...

      I wrote this quote in my journal. I needed it today. Thank you 💗

  50. Lara says...

    I was very unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer this year. I was very fortunate to have an army of friends and family who immediately sprang into action to support me and my family. But one day, a car that I didn’t recognize pulled into my driveway. When I opened my front door, I found my ex-husband’s former work colleague standing there with a card and a chicken pot pie. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in over a decade but he heard about my situation and just showed up. He didn’t worry that I wouldn’t recognize him or that I wouldn’t like chicken pot pie, he just showed up. I burst into tears that day and still cry at the memory. Sometimes life is just about showing up.

    • Perla says...

      This man is an angel. . Bless his heart
      I wish you all the best lara
      And a big hug
      Xx

  51. Sarah says...

    These are so lovely. Both the post and the comments. A reminder to be kind and gentle not only to those around us but to ourselves, too. Thank you for this.

  52. joana says...

    I’ve recently broken up with my boyfriend and am having a really hard time. I went on holidays for a week with a friend (previously scheduled, ended up happening at the perfect time) and although I saw beautiful things it was a weird and emotional holiday. When I came back, my mom had been to my house and made my bed fresh with a new duvet cover with my favorite leaves on it (for a fresh start, she said). I cried when I saw it, and felt so grateful… I’ve been sleeping with it ever since and it gives me comfort.

    ps: this leaf comes from a tree, ginkgo biloba, which is japanese and a symbol of resistance and strength because it was the only type of tree that grew back after the atomic bombs. I didn’t now this when it became my favorite leaf, but it makes for even a more perfect new beginning… (and that’s what my mom thought too)

    • GB says...

      I had just gotten home from a trip after a bad break up. My best friend/roommate at the time washed my bedding and gave me fresh sheets to sleep in. The kindest gesture ever. Hope your being gentle for yourself – sending you comfort

  53. It was my first time flying alone with my baby and I walked out of the airplane bathroom after changing her diaper to find the woman from the row behind me waiting just outside. She said “Here, I’ll hold her while you use the restroom”. As a mom herself, she anticipated my needs even before I did. Her example taught me to actively look for moms similarly in need rather than waiting for someone to ask for help.

    • Susan says...

      My mom shared this story with me a few years back and I cannot shake it.
      When I was a baby I had a form of cancer called Retinoblastoma. I had to have an eye surgically removed and now have a prosthetic (I loved the piece on Beatrice!). When I was having the initial surgery my parents were in the hospital with me for a while. While they were there a man with some mental disabilities from church wanted to serve them but didn’t know how. He decided to take the bus to their home and mow their lawn. My mom said it is to this day one of the kindest gestures she’s ever received. What a kind and meaningful thing. Thanks for these!