A few weeks ago I found myself sitting on a bench outside of a nice strip mall, people-watching. I had taken the morning off and was waiting for Seth to meet me. He had been slowed down by traffic, so I decided to grab a smoothie and wait for him outside. I spent a few minutes trying to go through work emails to justify the break but I just couldn’t focus and decided to put my phone down and people-watch. Shortly after, I noticed a man standing to my side, just a few feet away. He was tan and burnt by the sun, had overgrown hair, and had noticeably not showered in a very, very long time. He had a McDonald’s paper bag in his hand, chewing loudly on something he had found inside. He carefully placed it into the trash, pulled out a half-eaten apple, and began to devour it just as emphatically as he had whatever he had been chewing before.
It took only a slight moment for me to realize that I was witnessing hunger and desperation in the form of a man eating from a trash bin. I immediately stood up, walked to the gentleman and asked him if he would like a smoothie. Surprised, he nodded his head. I had him follow me into Smoothie King, asked him to pick out his favorite flavor, and ordered the largest cup they carried. He looked visibly out of place and the other customers were trying politely not to stare, but were growing curious of his presence.
I had told him to pick out a few bags of chips while I grabbed him some cookies and granola bars, when I was interrupted by a woman. She had just walked into the store, had her wallet in her hand, tears in her eyes, and asked me if she could contribute by giving me some money. I insisted that it was not necessary and holding back tears, she said “what you’re doing is incredible, I needed to see this today, God bless you,” and she left. A moment later, the woman in front of me finished paying for her smoothie, turned to me and shoved a few dollars into my hand. She refused to let me give it back to her and insisted that she would like to help also. When it was my turn to pay, the cashier read me my total and I handed him my card. I signed the receipt but noticed that the total was significantly lower than what he had said. I told him that he had charged me incorrectly but he just smiled and said, “I gave you a discount.”
As I passed the bag to the gentleman and wished him a wonderful day, I became overwhelmed. What I had just witnessed was my one, simple gesture, propel several other people to act as well. It wasn’t a big gesture, simply a smoothie, some chips, and cookies, but it moved people to do something good. And again, it was so clear to me that one voice can change the world.
We’ve seen too many times, how anger, hostility, and negativity are contagious. They spread and escalate situations into even more negative, angry, and hostile situations.
Kindness, positivity, and love, are aggressively infectious. And love is always more powerful. In this particular moment, one voice, one action, one kind deed, propelled several people to act with kindness and love. Everyone that was present for that moment, walked away with greater warmth inside of their heart and a larger desire to do good. Good is all around us and as we try to make it more apparent in a world that sometimes focuses too much on negativity, we will see the change in the world.
I made it a goal, many many years ago, to start every day with a prayer in my heart that I would find a way to help someone that day. Every day that I have, I have found numerous ways to help others. It has not only made my day brighter, but it has lightened my heart and my burden.
This Christmas season and through all other seasons, I urge you to commit yourself daily, to finding a way to help someone. That someone could be in your home, your family, your neighborhood, or anyone across the world. One voice can change the world. Even if it’s just a smaller version of the world that that voice lives in.
If you’re at a loss on where to start, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has begun a campaign to Light the World with 25 ways in 25 days. With it, they’ve provided a calendar with ideas on ways to feel the spirit of the season by serving others and doing good. Each day has a theme and with it, ways to carry out that theme in a way that’s simple for adults, teenagers, and children.
Every day until Christmas on my Instastory, I will be sharing a more specific way that we can “Light the World” together. I promise that the world is never brighter than when we choose to make it brighter. I know that by doing good, we will see a change in our lives and in the lives of our families, and you will see how infectious love can be.
Share with me the ways you’ve shared your light with others.