Motivation for the Marketplace

The Power of Simple Kindness

Forty or so of us stood in a large circle ringing the side of the interview room of the emergency relief food pantry where I work. What a circle, I thought, as I do every time I join the daily opening ritual. Talk about diversity! Our circle that morning was a rainbow of human colors. The circle reflected almost every category of human diversity -- race, religion, economic/class status, educational experience, generation, national origin, size, and shape. What a circle.

As we stood holding hands and preparing for an opening prayer, I overheard a conversation. Across the circle stood a man about 40 years old. He looked "down on his luck" to say the least. Thin, soiled, hungry, most likely hung over and needing work, the man held hands with one of our volunteers. The woman stood with a bright smile on her face, ready for the day to begin. She turned to her new neighbor and warmly welcomed him with a big smile.

As they talked, I heard him say, "That smile is better than money. Thank you!"

I didn't follow up with him or her. I just watched and learned. No doubt, he received food, good counsel and possibly even a job lead or a referral to our employment training program before he left our building. But nothing we provided could compete with the feeling afforded by a simple smile from a genuine heart. The human connection literally lifted the man. The smile filled him with hope and a sense of personal worth.

I routinely underestimate the importance and power of simple human kindness. My experience in the circle that morning stays with me. And, I've reached the following conclusions about kindness and my daily activities.

I saw it in the circle with my own eyes. I'll never be the same again.

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