Search This Blog

Friday, October 17, 2014

When Small Acts of Kindness are HUGE

by Carol Fragale Brill
A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about my worry that chemo treatments and losing my hair might make me look sick or unable. I imagined people would gawk at my scarf-wrapped head—or worse, dart their eyes away from me, rendering me invisible. 
Like so often when I wring my hands and project about the future, those worries were a waste of energy and time—teaching me once again that worry is like making loan payments before you get the loan. 
Repeatedly, the small gestures of others have reminded me how the littlest ripple of kindness can grow into a wave. Like the first time I wrapped my head in a “dress-up” scarf and self-consciously ventured out to an upscale restaurant for dinner with Jim. The waiter gushed about how attractive he found “my very stylish scarf.” A seemingly little gesture—for me and my self-esteem, it was absolutely huge.
I can’t tell you how often strangers—mostly women but also a good number of men—go out of their way to make eye contact with me, hold my gaze, and smile in a way that telegraphs encouragement and support.
My favorite example of a stranger’s small act of kindness might be the woman who came up to me in the grocery store, gestured discreetly at my head-wrap and said, “I had that same hairstyle three years ago.” She winked and added, “Don’t worry, it really does grow back.” 
Even more encouraging than her headful of hair was her healthy appearance—living proof that you can kick cancer’s butt.
The concept of small acts of kindness might sound cliché. For me, these little ripples from strangers help normalize a time that often feels anything but normal. And, far from making me feel invisible, they validate my experience and boost my self-esteem.
So what small acts of kindness has someone showed to you? And, what can you do today to start a ripple that churns up a kindness wave?


  1. Carol, There is so much wisdom in this post, and I think you will motivate people to be more courageous in sharing hope as you have experienced.

    I smiled at: "worry is like making loan payments before you get the loan." So true...

    I always appreciate people holding doors open when they really don't have to. It's such a simple gesture. And people waving your car ahead of theirs into traffic. So many easy things we can do for each other.

    I bet this post starts something good.

    1. Chris, I'd love if this blog starts others sharing hope. for me, I hope it reminds me to do the simple things for others that just might make a difference.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I promise to take more notice of the small acts of kindness in my day. As for me, my silliest small acts are turning any coins I find "heads" up, so that the next person who finds them will have "good luck."

  3. Mary, I do the same thing with coins. I wonder if some heads-up ones I've found on my morning walks are gifts of kindness from you??

  4. One day as I was leaving the grocery store with my screaming infant son, a man appeared and offered to unload my cart, putting the groceries in the trunk while I put the baby in the car. I accepted, and when I thanked him, he smiled and simply said, "I've been there." His simple gesture turned a difficult moment into one I always remember with a smile. Thanks for the reminder about small gestures of kindess. They feel really good for the giver too. When I'm grumpy in the morning, letting someone in front of me in traffic often lightens my mood.

    1. Hey Julie, I think I remember this story and it made me smile, too. great to see you here. Miss you,