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The Power of Kindness


Surely There is Great Strength in Kindness

"Be kind to everyone you meet. They all carry a heavy load." -- Elton Graham, my grandfather.

I learned a lot about kindness from my grandparents. Grandpa Graham was the sweetest man. Chickadees would land on his arms and shoulders while he was outside in his gardens. Here is a lens about kindness, in honor of my grandfather.


A Good Lesson

I have had my grandfather's advice to me validated many times, but here is one example.

I was having lunch with a friend in a small diner when she told me she was thinking about not leaving a tip because the waitress was not being very friendly. I then told her what I happened to know about the waitress. I knew her story because she had been befriended by my father and a group of his friends who would come in for morning coffee every weekday. Her husband had just died of a sudden heart attack and, if that wasn't enough, she was taking care of his mother who was very sick and dying of cancer. And, here she was still working every day. My friend was shocked to hear this and we left a good tip. You see, you just never know.

Betty White's Secret - Kindness and Appreciation


"Kindness and appreciation for somebody else besides yourself----that's what keeps you young."

~~Betty White to Katy Couric on the May 8th, 2001 broadcast of CBS Sunday Morning~~

drawing: Nancy Jo Graham

Insightful Quotes on Kindness & Compassion

There are many good quotes on kindness and compassion. I think these, in particular, are insightful.

  1. "The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible."

    Albert Einstein

  2. "Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever."

    Margaret Cho

  3. "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

    The Dalai Lama

  4. "Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things."

    Thomas Merton

  5. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

    Philo of Alexandria

    (I guess my grandfather had read about Philo!)

Tips for Being of Help

It's good to know when and how to be of greatest help to others. Here are some sites that can help you with this.

  • Charity Focus
    "CharityFocus is an experiment in the joy of giving. Our services enable inspired people to contribute in meaningful ways to the world around them. Together, we hope to 'be the change we wish to see in the world'."
  • Mental Health America
    Here is some information, presented clearly and simply, on how helping others is good for us, including ideas for specific things we can all do to help other people. Also offered are suggestions for those who may want to consider volunteering on a re

You Never Know What Someone Else's Story Might Be

So, be kind. And, yes, this really happened to me.

While I was in Home Goods shopping one evening several years ago a few weeks before Christmas, a cute little girl walked past me (maybe 6 years old). She had long, light red hair and was wearing a pale green coat and a bright red and white stripped hat. She was by herself looking at the children's toys and from the first moment that I saw her I was drawn to her, feeling that there was something special about her.

I asked her where her mother was, but she was very shy and turned away. Not long after, her mother appeared and she was in trouble for wandering off. I approached them and asked the mother if she wanted me to reinforce the importance of staying safe and she happily said "yes". I told the girl that when I saw her by herself I had been worried about her and that I was glad that she was with her mother now. Her mom and I chatted a bit and then they went on their way to wander the store together.

This mother and her little girl were in the store for a long time looking at all kinds of things and ooohing and aaahing. I could tell that mom really had to edit herself as far as what she could buy. She, also, kept loudly threatening her daughter with calling her father if she didn't continue to stay close. Mom seemed unsettled about something and her daughter was quiet and patient. Despite the mother's worry, they were obviously having fun together.

I knew that I wanted to do something for them, but I didn't know why or what. I thought about candy for the kids (she said she had 4 more at home) or some kind of Christmas treats and I hung around looking at things, hoping something would strike me or that I would see her pick something up and have to put it back down. I just couldn't come up with what felt right and I ended up in line behind her as we both waited to check out.

It turned out that she had been hoping to pay for her purchases with her new Home Goods card, but she hadn't received it in the mail yet. However, they couldn't let her use it and she was upset and uncertain about what to do. I caught the clerk's attention and mouthed to her that I would pay for it, slipping her my credit card so that "Mom" wouldn't see me. I was trying to keep it a secret. The clerk told her that someone else was paying for her. At first she was confused then she started to cry. When she saw me sign the credit slip, she thanked me over and over and asked my name.

Through her tears, the little girl's mother told me her name was Eileen and that she had 5 children. "Four boys at home.", she said, then, "But, this isn't my only daughter. (she paused) My oldest daughter, who was 17, died earlier this year. She was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and she committed suicide." It was then that I knew why she was so unsettled and why I felt the unexplained desire to help.

One of the things they had purchased was a little wooden duck that quacks as you pull it behind you on a string. Her daughter smiled and thanked me for it as she walked out of the store behind her mother, the duck trailing after her. I still have that lovely image embedded in my memory.

The clerks at the store were amazed that I had paid for the purchases and were shocked that I had done so. I wondered, why it should be such a big deal. It's so EASY to just DO it.

At one point while I was wandering the store and thinking about it, I did feel a little embarrassed and thought that if I did do something for this little girl and her mother, I might be intruding on a stranger's life. And, I hesitated. In the end, I was glad that I trusted my intuition and followed through. For the rest of the day, I felt overwhelmed with love and with thankfulness that I was given the opportunity to help and to participate in their lives.

Can Kindness Change the World?

How much kindness would it take to change the world? How many of us does it take to tip the scale, to make a difference on a global level? Here are some interesting sites to visit. In one way or another, they all talk about the impact of kindness and compassion.

  • The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
    This is an awesome site with many features. You can sign up for a monthly newsletter on kindness, get material for the classroom, create you own kindness website for free using a special template, send an e-card with an inspiring quote and much more.
  • Kindness to Ourselves & Others
    A wonderful teaching on the Buddhists' view of suffering, compassion and kindness.
  • Visionaries
    Visionaries makes documentary films about individuals and groups around the world who are helping others. Their byline is "Changing the World One Story at a Time".

Teach By Example

On my way to work I saw this bumper sticker:

In Everything You Say or Do

Think of How it Affects Others Too

Teach by Example

More Evidence for the Importance of Kindness - What how we treat others says about us

Here is an article about the importance of being kind to everyone we encounter, focusing particularly on our interactions with waiters, waitresses and others in the service industries. Statistics and anecdotal evidence are included, giving added emphasis to the critical need for kindness in our society.

Writings on Kindness at Work

Where do we spend most of our time each day? Why not practice kindness on the job? When I am frustrated with someone, sometimes I imagine them as a child before they picked up all that baggage we all carry with us and it helps me to be more understanding. Check out this book to learn how kindness at work can be very successful.

Movies About Kindness

I know there are many more movies about the power of kindness. I just can't think of them right now. Can you?

A Supreme Kindness During WWII

  • Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness
    This is the site for a documentary film about Chiune Sugihara, and how he saved the lives of Jewish people during World War II. A companion to the PBS documentary "Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness", this site has an interactive timeline examining Sug

The Movie


The Ultimate Quote From Anne Frank

Don't forget Anne Frank and her stunning comment in her diary while hiding during the holocaust.

"In spite of everything," Anne says, "I still believe that people are truly good at heart....that this cruelty too will end..."

She was only 13 years old.

Have you Read Her Diary?

From the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

More Inspiration for Helping Others

  • Stories of Kindness
    Here you can read or even listen to other's stories and submit your own. There are daily quotes and weekly and monthly newsletters which you can have delivered.
  • Kindspring!
    Here is a site that helps you to understand how to help others. It includes what is sort of a game of pay-it-forward where you anonymously make someone smile with an act of kindness and leave behind a card asking them to keep the ripple going.

Writings on the Kindness of Animals

Animals show the instinct to help others too. Here are some books on the kindness of animals.

Children Taking Action

What an amazing impact from the kindness and action of one young child. Check these out!

  • Ryan Hrelijacs and Ryan's Well Foundation
    Visit this inspirational site to learn about the influence of one young child. When Canadian Ryan Hreljacs was 6 years old, his teacher talked of people in Africa having to walk miles for fresh water. Wanting to make a difference, Ryan proceeded to d
  • Hannah Taylor and The Ladybug Foundation
    This is an amazing story. At the age of 5, Hannah Taylor was inspired to learn more about homeless people. She has now raised over one million dollars to help homeless people across Canada. Here is a quote from her "So many people have already helped

Teaching Children Kindness


Can you be TOO nice?

I think that there is a difference between being nice and being kind. Sometimes being nice is about wanting approval or being afraid of conflict. On the inside you may be worrying about what others think of you or you may hesitate to "hurt other's feelings". We all know that sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to speak the truth. There are fine lines here, though, aren't there?

One of my bosses years ago called me into her office to berate me. "You're too nice. You're too nice and everybody likes you!" I was bewildered. I didn't know how to respond, so I said nothing, which frustrated her even further. I never was clear about her motivation. At the time I wondered if it was jealousy. I saw her a few years later, after we were no longer working together, and she haltingly apologized to me. But, perhaps her comment held a grain of truth. Sometimes being TOO nice is not helping you any and may not be helping the greater good either.

This would be a great late-night debate wouldn't it?


Sometimes..."You Gotta Be Cruel to Be Kind"

Remember this song? Do you agree with the person Nick Lowe is singing about?

Cruel to Be Kind

Oh, I can't take another heartache,

Though you say you're my friend, I'm at my wits' end!

You say your love is bona fide,

But that don't coincide with the things that you do

And when I ask you to be nice, you say

You've gotta be

Cruel to be kind in the right measure,

Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign,

Cruel to be kind means that I love you,

Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind.

Well I do my best to understand dear,

But you still mystify, and I want to know why.

I pick myself up off the ground

To have you knock me back down again and again!

And when I ask you to explain, you say

You've gotta be

Cruel to be kind in the right measure,

Cruel to be kind it's a very good sign,

Cruel to be kind means that I love you,

Baby, you've gotta be cruel to be kind.

Writings About the Price of Being "Too" Nice


One by One

I am pleased that many of you are interested in this topic and that it has offered inspiration. As we all age and think about what we have done with our lives, is it really what we have done for ourselves that fills us with a sense of peace? What, indeed, does that leave behind once we are gone? That which truly endures, I feel, is the influence we have had on others. Doesn't that get passed along from generation to generation? And, doesn't it affect the whole of humanity? It spreads. I am sure of it. Can we "change the world"? I think we can. One by one.

Please feel free to include your own thoughts here.

Guest Book & Reader Feedback

PropheticBlogge1 on April 20, 2012:

Thankyou for your thought provoking lens. The trouble in this world seems that it maybe too easy to be mean than it is to be kind. People may refrain from being kind because the receiver of the kindness may question the motives behind it. It's very hard to change peoples mindsets, especially when the media report so much sorrow and suffering. I will try to be more aware of being kind throughout my day. Thanks again for the lens.

anonymous on April 07, 2012:

@SteveKaye: For a historic view of the power of nice you may be interested in THE SEEDS WE SOW, KINDNESS THAT FED A HUNGRY WORLD.

SteveKaye on April 05, 2012:

I found this lens because I was searching for an article on the book, "The Power of Nice." I strongly recommend this book. If everyone followed these ideas, we would have a wonderful world.

Marilyn Briant on February 18, 2012:

It is heartwarming to find someone else who believes as I do - you just never know what someone else is going through, so even if they seem rude or unfriendly, it feels good to be kind. I have a Paying It Forward lens which I love updating with "random acts of kindness" stories. You have created a beautiful lens from a beautiful heart.

poutine on January 26, 2012:

I believe in kindness for others.

kimmanleyort on January 25, 2012:

Wow. This lens is chock full of great resources to learn more about kindness. The overall theme is very clear - that we never know what someone else is going through. Great job and blessed.

brettselby on November 03, 2011:

Great lens. And very thorough, too. Trying to getting better by reading what other people are doing. Nice job.

crstnblue on October 29, 2011:

Glad to see that caring people (and dedicated to a cause) are still around...

efriedman on October 18, 2011:

Interesting distinction between being nice and being kind.

anonymous on October 03, 2011:

please add our site to your list - www.walk4good.org - we are all about paying it forward!

Kate Loving Shenk from Lancaster PA on September 20, 2011:

I came back to bless this lens!!

GramaBarb from Vancouver on September 13, 2011:

An angel who also loves kindness sprinkled some special angel dust here. Kindness is my favorite word.

awakeningwellness on September 05, 2011:

I loved reading your stories they were very inspirational...it is obvious that you have a kind heart. :)

iMANDY from Melbourne, Australia on September 02, 2011:

You have a beautiful heart! What a lovely lens to read through :)

Michelle Collins from Florida on July 29, 2011:

This is a wonderful lens. *Blessed*

AngelDey on July 16, 2011:

Thank you for this motivational lens. All it takes is a little act of kindness to make someone else's world so much better. And kindness and generosity spreads. Motivating people to do good deeds and be charitable is a beautiful thing. Thanks again.

efriedman on July 11, 2011:

Thank you for this inspiration to focus on what is good, to give others the benefit of the doubt and to help where you can.

tobekind on June 24, 2011:

@sponias lm: You are so right about always being kind. The back cover of the book The Seeds We Sow, Kindness that Fed a Hungry World has this comment: "Practice random acts of kindness" is a catchy little phrase. It is also nonsense. There should be nothing random about the decision to be kind. There is no single action more powerful....


sponias lm on June 23, 2011:

Goodness is pure medicine. It saves lives, and it puts an end to many horrors. Wish most people were always very generous and kind, instead of being indifferent and cold.

Mayapearl on June 15, 2011:

Being kind makes liffe so much more beautiful. I love the story on how you helped the mother and child and it reminded me an incident where i too helped someone but was quite worried about being rejected!

Indigo Janson from UK on June 01, 2011:

A beautiful, beautiful page. Kindness is so important and it's sad when it gets forgotten in the race to get ahead. And it's true what you say, something you may do as a small kindness that you later forget can make a real impact on someone else's life. Angel Blessed.

anonymous on May 27, 2011:

I wrote a book on the power of kindness. It is not a self-help, feel-good kind of book. Rather it is an historical proof of the cross-generational power of kindness. THE SEEDS WE SOW, KINDNESS THAT FED A HUNGRY WORLD can be seen on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, etc. I hope everyone on this lens will take a moment to look at it. (The publisher added the "look inside" feature on Amazon.) Kindness--pass it on!

Demir Fastery from Robocity, Italy on May 25, 2011:

Aww isn't kindness the key to a happy, fulfilled life which can bring light and joy to others' lives too? :) I *adore* this lens! Adorable, true, filled with your heart. My now top fav. ^_^

sheriangell on May 11, 2011:

A jewel of a lens and blessed by a Squid Angel today.

HomepageHeroes on May 06, 2011:

Nice lens. The world could use more kindness these days.

tobekind on April 04, 2011:

The reverberation around the world that Jeremiah mentions is the butterfly effect which is thoroughly explored in THE SEEDS WE SOW. http://www.amazon.com/Seeds-Kindness-That-Hungry-W...

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on April 01, 2011:

Here are some April Angel Blessings for you - you deserve them for a heartwarming lens. I am also featuring your lens on Good Lenses Deserve Angel Blessings

JeremiahStanghini on March 30, 2011:

The power of kindness... reverberates around the world -- over and over!

With Love and Gratitude,


Ruthi on February 23, 2011:

There's a whole lot o' love and kindness on this lens. Thank you for sharing your tribute to your grandfather.

HubLens Admin on February 18, 2011:

Great quotes - thanks for the powerful sharing. Thumbs up

Kate Loving Shenk from Lancaster PA on February 14, 2011:

Beautiful and True--and ***Blessed***

tobekind on February 12, 2011:

@anonymous: In 1933 Henry Agard Wallace told a crowd packed into Des Moines Coliseum, "Only the merest quarter turn of the heart separates us from an abundance beyond the fondest dream of anyone present. Selfishness has ceased to be the mainspring of progress. There is something more. There is a new social machinery in the making. Let us maintain sweet and kindly hearts toward each other, however great the difficulties ahead.


sheriangell on February 09, 2011:

I love your grandfathers quote. Everyone has a story and does indeed carry a heavy load. I also really enjoyed your lens. Blessed today by a Society & Culture Squid Angel.

sheriangell on February 09, 2011:

I love your grandfathers quote. Everyone has a story and does indeed carry a heavy load. I also really enjoyed your lens. Blessed today by a Society & Culture Squid Angel.

Manikandan123 on February 04, 2011:

Great lens. Kindness can save lives, change peoples's perspectives and open their eyes to something special.

anonymous on January 19, 2011:

For more on the cross-generational power of kindness read THE SEEDS WE SOW, KINDNESS THAT FED A HUNGRY WORLD.


yourgoldenfuture on January 10, 2011:

be kind and others will be kind...

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on December 02, 2010:

Congratulations on a great lens! I'm a Squidoo angel this month and I've blessed this page. I love your message and think about it often. Everyone does carry a heavy load... A great quote. Kindness is an important topic. Thanks for taking the time to make this lens!

Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on February 21, 2010:

What a great idea for a lens! I enjoyed the story about the waitress, and the lens is divided up very well. You have done a great job! Thanks for writing this lens. I will definitely be back.

HorseFan on July 19, 2009:

You make so many points that I think most of know, deep down inside, but that we tend to forget. It will motivate me to try to be kinder to everyone I meet tomorrow.

shevans lm on May 11, 2009:

This is a great lens straight from the heart and very meaningful.

religions7 on February 10, 2009:

Great lens. Please submit this to my Spiritual growth and awareness headquarters. http://www.squidoo.com/groups/spiritual-growth

seedplanter on January 16, 2009:

What a blessing your grandpa is. Oh, that we would all have someone like that in our lives. I received that same message as I grew up - that you never know what someone is going through. It's easier to lash out at someone rude, but if we knew their struggles and disappointments, it would make a difference. Your kindness lens is beautiful. I'm lensrolling it to one of my lenses, "The Gift of Kindness." It's a perfect fit. Thank you.

Five *****'s and a fave for a lens I'll not soon forget.

poutine on December 10, 2008:

I enjoy your quotes about kindness.

Your grandpa seems like a lovely person.

anonymous on August 09, 2008:

Kindness feels good. Maybe the rest of the world will catch on. I lensrolled this to my Courtesy is Contagious lens. Thanks. 5*

RickBasset on August 01, 2008:

Love your lens! Wonder if you would like to add it to my new group People for Peace! I think it would be a perfect fit!

People for Peace!

Peace! :~)

religions7 on May 15, 2008:

You just might like my lens on Love Quotes as well.

SerenityPrayerG on May 10, 2008:

Very nice lens! Thanks for sharing kindness!


anonymous on May 02, 2008:

An interesting lens you got there. I wanted to share these sites I found Public Records and Background Check Resources 2 sites useful also that interest me. More power!

religions7 on April 08, 2008:

Wonderful topic, wonderful lens. Thanks.

endlesslight on February 20, 2008:

I love yor topic! What you are doing can change the world! Would you like to check out my lense of personal development and spiritual growth. Maybe you could give me a rating. You are a 5 for sure!

RinchenChodron on February 16, 2008:

Great site - 5 of 5. If we all could just be more compassionate, what a difference it would make in the world.

anonymous on January 03, 2008:

I volunteer for an organization whose mission is to inspire humanity to make a difference in the world by implementing programs that increase understanding and kindness. What this really means is we work to promote understanding and kindness. Check it out: http://blossominternational.org

anonymous on September 21, 2007:

In today's world I often felt a fool for trying to be a good person. The 12 steps of AA have made me no longer feel 'abnormal'

Your lens brightens my world in the same way.

Thank you.


Meloramus on August 19, 2007:

This is a lovely lens and a most welcome addition to The Better Life Group. 5*

anonymous on August 14, 2007:

At 53 Iâve seen incredible amounts of hatred, abuse, anger, etc. Greed probably ranks #1 in my list of things I hate. I always told my kids if a bum needs a quarter-give him a buck. The need for real kindness in the world is growing. Its existence seems to diminish. Thank you for your Lens

Forgiven on August 14, 2007:

Wow! What a great lens! 5 Stars from me! Please visit my faithography lens when you get time and rate it if you would.

Barry Wah Lee from Auckland on August 06, 2007:

Some people think I am kind, I know the feeling of not being able to share your insights that can seem unkind, cruel,or even definite.But the result of this is some think you are mad.Solution is to think first before speaking.There is a way to say things.

Nicegoogoo on August 02, 2007:

thanks for good quotes on kindness and compassion

My kind request visit here to see my lens about quit smoking

daoine lm on August 01, 2007:

Lovely lens. You're absolutely right about the motivations behind being "nice" as opposed to being kind. I like to think that when something is pointed out with kindness, although the person's feelings may be hurt/embarrassed, the kindness is in sparing them greater hurt down the line.

anonymous on July 31, 2007:

Wonderful lens. Thank you for reminding us of what is truly important. :-)

AlisonLee LM on July 29, 2007:

Inspiring lens! 5* Kindness is always rewarded at the end. :) Do visit my lens on How To Visualize And Get The Life You Want. Love, Alison

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on July 27, 2007:

What a great topic for a lens! You did a good job at it, too! I think about kindness a lot and your thoughts about the difference between kindness and being nice are interesting. Keep up the good work! :)

markius on July 26, 2007:


You've got a great lens here. You have put so much work into it! Wow!

When you get a minute, stop over and see my lens Happy News, Happy Stories

religions7 on July 25, 2007:

Thanks for this great lens :)

I thought you might also like my collection of quotes on Love

Signhappy on July 24, 2007:

So glad I clicked on this lens. In the midst of a busy, hectic day, it made me slow down and reflect, on a topic worth reflecting upon every day. Kindly visit my lens on The Mercury Retrograde if you get a chance. They're four great kids who would appreciate it.

RaintreeAnnie from UK on July 23, 2007:

Beautiful, inspiring lens. The world could do with more kindness. 5 stars for a wonderful job. Thank you i enjoyed browsing here :)

kathysart on July 20, 2007:


Ohhh I just adore your lens.. so perfect.

FIVE STARS in a beautiful sky.

Kathy's ACEO on Squidoo:



Hokeysmoke on July 19, 2007:

After feeling rather unkind to any and all today, this lens served as a gret reminder that maybe I don't know all there is in a situation and should think twice before judging.

LuckyLeo on July 09, 2007:

Great lens, kindness is the key that is for sure. I just finished watching a video you can listen to or even include in your lens. You can find it on YouTube.com it is called, "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback.

datingtips93 on July 01, 2007:

Love this lens. Thank you!

anonymous on June 29, 2007:

What a fabulous lens. Insightful, stimulating and refreshiing. Just made my morning quite special. Thank you

youanddave on June 09, 2007:

Very inspiring--makes one stop and think, "what more can I do in my circle of influence?" Thanks.

Horseangel on June 08, 2007:

Beautiful lens! Thank you so much for building it!

I've added it to both my lenses

Horseangel x

religions7 on May 24, 2007:

Wonderful, inspiring lens. Thanks.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on November 25, 2006:

Thank you, Nancy Jo, for making the time to do this lens. It's beautiful and inspiring. I'm adding you to my lensroll at

Goddessshira on October 01, 2006:

What an inspiring lens! Keep it coming...