Often, when we think of people who inspire us, we gravitate towards those who seem larger than life, like celebrities, political leaders, and other important figures in history. But why should we only aspire to be larger than life when anyone and everyone has the ability to do amazing things?
Ordinary people share extraordinary amounts of kindness every day. These good deeds — no matter how small — have a powerful impact, and not just on the recipients. According to a scientific study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, performing acts of kindness can improve your mood and emotional wellness.
While countless people give and receive the benefits of kind gestures every day, here are seven of our favorites:
1. Keaton Hamin, a 9-year-old boy, gave a special present to a 7-year-old girl living with Leukemia.
Two youngsters proved it's never too early to learn or teach the gift the giving. Alyx Delaloye, a 7-year-old girl living with Leukemia, was at a Winnipeg Jets game with her family when she noticed a 9-year-old boy, Keaton Hamin, had won a signed hockey stick from the team. Hamin gave Delaloye the hockey stick as present, which she gratefully accepted and thanked him with a hug. The Jets team was so impressed by Keaton's kindness, they gave him a second signed stick of his own.
2. Lorraine Jara created the "Be Kind To Humankind" project.
Created in 1988, the Be Kind to Humankind Week was Lorraine Jara's response to what she saw as people's harsh indifference to each other. Observed globally from August 25 to 31, this project is "a week of reflection and kind thoughts of others to make this world a better place." Last year, Jara teamed up with Medical Daily to spread kindness among unsuspecting New Yorkers by surprising them with a free snack, while also encouraging them to "pay it forward" to others.
3. Kelly McGuire gave her boots to a homeless person.
Kelly McGuire was walking home from a sports game when she passed a homeless woman sitting out in the cold. At first, she passed by the woman, but then something inspired McGuire to go back and speak to her. Just from their short chat, McGuire felt a special connection with the woman, named Amy, and gave her the winter boots right off her feet. Believe it or not, they were the same size. In return, Amy lent Kelly her old boots so she wouldn't be cold on her way home.
4. Alex Ruiz fed a customer with physical disabilities at his restaurant so he wouldn't go hungry.
During Alex Ruiz's regular Sunday shift serving at Cinco De Mayo Mexican Grill in Douglasville, Georgia, he heard a customer asking people for help. Not having hands, he needed some assistance to eat his meal. Without hesitation, Ruiz sat down, fed the customer, and stayed with him until he was finished. Another restaurant patron, Reginald Widener, spotted Ruiz's act of kindness and decided to take a photo and post it to Facebook on April 24, 2016, where it's since been shared over 2,000 times.
5. This man spent an entire plane ride walking up and down the aisle to comfort a crying toddler, giving the child's pregnant mother a much-needed break.
When many people hear a toddler crying in the middle of a flight, they start complaining. Not this guy. He started comforting the upset child so his pregnant mom could take a break. A father himself, according to fellow passenger Angela Bryd, the unnamed man spent the majority of the plane ride walking up and down the aisle to soothe the young boy. Byrd posted a photo to the Love What Matters Facebook page, where it has since garnered over 250,000 likes and more than 32,000 shares.
6. Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz surprised a hard-working cafe employee with a free trip to Disney World.
Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz, two students at Elon University in North Carolina, have a very special relationship with Kathryn Thompson, a campus cafe employee. After talking to Thompson late one night in the cafe, the students learned one of her dreams was to take her family to Disney World. From that single conversation, Williams and Zisholtz were inspired to start a GoFundMe campaign to fund Thompson's dream vacation. In less than a month, they raised over $7,000.
7. Juan Samhan helped reunite a homeless man, Pedro Abrego, with his family after 20 years apart.
Pedro "Tony" Abrego, a homeless man, was able to reunite with his son and daughter after 20 years, all thanks to the kind gesture of a liquor store employee, Juan Samhan. Friends with Abrego for ten years, Samhan wrote a sweet Facebook post urging those who saw it to help Abrego find his two children, with whom he'd lost touch after separating from his wife. Within two days of Samhan's post going viral, he received a Facebook message from Abrego's daughter. Soon after, the family shared a heartfelt and long overdue reunion.
Of course, these are just seven people whose random acts of kindness — no matter how big or small — have inspired us. There are countless more whose good deeds may not make big headlines, but make a huge difference to one person. Anyone can spark a positive change, and everyone should try.
Cover image via Unsplash