A Small Act of Kindness

Doing something small to help another person doesn’t seem like much. Probably without even thinking about it you perform countless acts of kindness all the time. You offer reassurance to a friend who is feeling down, you hold the door for a woman struggling to get through with a baby stroller, you get the glum barista laughing, you try to buy altruistic products when you can, heck, sometimes you give do-gooder gifts.

Chances are you don’t have time to wonder about the outcome of such actions. But your compassionate acts are powerful. They boost your own health and positive outlook. Plus, there’s a ripple effect. The kindness you show inspires people to pay it forward.

We rarely know how our small acts of kindness affect others. But one woman was stunned by the long-term impact of her actions. A Swedish woman, Hilde Back, spent a few dollars a month to sponsor a rural student’s education in Kenya. She never expected to find out if her efforts made a difference to him. She certainly never thought she’d hear from him. But years later, Chris Mburu decided to find the stranger who changed his life. Mburu’s schooling led to Harvard and he became a human rights lawyer for the United Nations. His experience inspired him to start a Kenyan-based scholarship program providing education for positive change in his troubled country. He named it for his former benefactor, Hilde Back. Compassion’s ripple effect has been made into a documentary title A Small Act. It’s now being screened for groups in the U.S. and internationally.

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Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.