Last week I was taking the Acela train from Boston to New York when the train in front of us broke down. As we sat there, not moving and not knowing when we'll get moving, the stress level began to climb up, including my own.
The train cars on the Acela are notoriously freezing so I decided to go outside and warm up in the sun (we'd pulled into a station before getting stuck, luckily.) A few minutes later, the conductor of the train came out and walked over to me. "Hopefully we'll get moving soon," he said, showing me his phone, on which he was getting real-time updates about the status of the broken-down train. "Sorry about the wait."
It was the tiniest gesture, but in a matter of seconds I went from feeling stressed out and anxious to calm.
And then I saw the conductor come up to two teen boys, who appeared to be traveling without parents. He showed them the real-time updates on his phone and they talked about trains and how much the boys loved traveling on them.
Watching the conductor try to ease the obvious tension that I, the boys, and other passengers were feeling was so uplifting.
It shouldn't feel so special to witness tiny moments of kindness and human connection, but it was -- perhaps because every day we are bombarded with so many messages about humans not being nice to each other.
I am sharing this with you because this experience reinvigorated my own commitment to practice the skill of intentional kindness more often.
It takes so little effort: holding the door for someone, smiling when you see a person walk by you, saying "Thank you" and making eye contact, moving over in yoga class to make a spot for the person next to you, letting someone in a rush cut in front of you in line. But the impact -- on the other person, on you, and on people around you -- can be so powerful and wonderful.
Research shows that doing something kind makes you happier, and often, happier than when someone does something kind for you. And even witnessing an act of kindness makes it more likely that you'll do something kind yourself.
So join me in this little kindness domino effect, will you? Our world can certainly use it.
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