Lesson 30: Kindness is WAY underrated.

urlI’m on my way back from an amazing business trip to South Africa. It’s been one of those magical experiences, where all the forces of good seem to come together to create the perfect storm of wonderfulness. And I know better than anyone, those moments don’t come along all that often, so when they do – you notice. And you give thanks.

There is so much I am grateful for on this trip. The fact that it happened at all, for one. In advertising, the opportunity to actually produce a commercial you’re passionate about is far too uncommon an occurrence. And as the writer, budgets being what they are these days, there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to go.

But that’s only the beginning. There was my gorgeous hotel room in Cape Town, with a view overlooking the infinity pool and ocean. Each morning, I was greeted by nearly a dozen dolphins flipping and playing only 50 yards away.

Then there was the talented and egoless director, the amazing production crew, adorable talent, not to mention two strapping “chaperones” who were happily at our beck and call 24/7 to take care of our every need. Seriously. All I’d have to do is THINK “I could use a Diet Coke,” or “I wonder where I can buy Rodriguez’s CDs,” and POOF! There was Nicholas or James, with the information or offering a cold drink.  I’m completely spoiled and bracing myself for some major withdrawal when I’m back on my own on the cold streets of New York in 6 hours.

And I have to mention the spectacular generosity and humor of our executive producer, Don – who was the charming cherry on top of this entire production. He filled our precious downtime with incredible sightseeing and restaurants. No one has ever had a better time on a business trip than us.

What connects all of these pieces to my happiness puzzle is one action: niceness.

I’ve encountered so much “un-niceness” lately, I was starting to think it was me. Or that it was the norm. Maybe I was expecting too much…

But then this trip happened, and I realized it’s not that at all. I think people get so caught up in their own dramas that sometimes they forget you have your own pain too.

Life can be hard. There are so many uncontrollable challenges that we all have to navigate through. Sometimes on a daily basis. But one kind word from a stranger, someone being compassionate in a stressful moment – can make all the difference.

Case in point: the flight attendant on this last leg of our 24 hour journey home accidentally hit my head with a tray. I stood up without looking, and she obviously didn’t see me either. She felt awful and apologized profusely. I wasn’t really hurt and told her not to worry. Everything else on these flights have been so wonderful (thank you, KLM), it really wasn’t a big deal.

What was a big deal was the way we both chose to handle it. She was apparently so touched by my niceness about it, she stopped me a few minutes later and said:

“I want you to know you’re the nicest person on this flight. Thank you so much.”

It meant the world to me. Not because it was a wonderful compliment (which it was), but because I could tell I had made a difference in her day.


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The longer I live, and the more I travel, the more certain I am of one thing: the world needs more nice people. You really don’t have to give anything, or do anything. Just care, and let another fellow human know it. I promise, you’ll both benefit from it.

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