The Nicest Thing reader stories

Your responses to our Facebook Page question:

“What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?”


A woman gave me 100 euros to buy a new flight ticket because I was in the wrong airport and I missed my flight. Then her sister drove me one hour to get me to the right airport. Four guys ( if I remember well, they were Lebanese), offered me a place to sleep. Otherwise, I was staying in a train station in Germany.

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.
— Eric Hoffer

Someone paid for my life-saving insulin one day when my insurance screwed up and wouldn't pay for it. When I'm at a pharmacy now and someone can’t pay for their scripts, I help when possible.

Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.
Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

When we were so poor, treated monstrously by my ex and had no money for food, an anonymous gift card with £50 on it for a supermarket came through my letterbox. Never found out who sent it. Later the same year, a friend gave us a free week in her caravan in Norfolk so we could get away.... I will never forget kindness like this and pay it forward wherever I can.

To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.
— Stephen R. Covey

Went to chemotherapy with me twice.

When a person does a good deed when he doesn't have to, God looks down and says, “For this moment alone, it was worth creating the world.”
— The Talmud

After a huge major mistake that ended my career, a neighbor I had never met had a talk with his boss. I was called in for a job interview and that began a new, even better career that spanned 30 years until I retired.

Perfect kindness acts without thinking of kindness.
Lao Tzu

I received an anonymous gift card in the mail for $200. Try as I might, I never discovered who sent it. No one, friend or family, owned up to it. So when I had the chance to pay it forward, I did. Anonymously. 

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
— John Wooden

I’d just hours previously had breast surgery to remove DCIS and my best friend came with my husband to visit. Upon arrival she leaned forward and kissed me on the forehead. It was a moment I’ll never forget because in that moment I felt so vulnerable but so incredibly supported. Thank you, Annette Nicholls, you are an angel on earth and I couldn’t love you more.

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you.
— Saint Augustine

When I was fighting for my life in the hospital, non-family members prayed so hard for me that I could feel their prayers. 

Seek to do brave and lovely things which are left undone by the majority of people. Give gifts of love and peace to those whom others pass by.
Paramahansa Yogananda

My neighbor. We never got along too well. But on a day when my husband hit me due to his aggression, she was a godsend. She knocked on my door just in time. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I am so grateful for that. 

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Frederick Buechner

When I was bedridden, two friends checked on me daily, bringing food and doing laundry for two months. So grateful.

One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness—it is usually returned.
— Cort R. Flint

Held me when I was sobbing and feeling hopeless. Never forgot the kindness.

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years ago, a family chose ours for their yearly Christmas family. They got ages and sizes from our oldest and they loaded our kids up that year with toys and clothes. One day I'd like to be able to do something like that.

Start some kind word on its travels. There is no telling where the good it may do will stop.
— Wilfred Grenfell

Paying for a cup of tea when I was short of money that week. I was at the counter and went to pay, found I didn't have enough, and this lady came up and paid for the tea when I told the fellow behind the counter to not bother making the tea, as I didn't have enough on me. I thought that was wonderful, I nearly cried.

On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little nameless unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.
— William Wordsworth

A friend told me about being in a shop a while after my mum passed away where she noticed the lovely aroma that reminded her of my mum. She asked the shop owner what the aroma was... sure enough it was my mum’s favorite that she used around her home. I’ll be ever grateful to Bea that she bothered telling me about it.

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.
— Amelia Earhart

An angel friend helped me one Christmas. She handed me an envelope of money for the holidays. I never asked, she just knew. She is my angel!!

Verily the kindness that gazes upon itself in a mirror turns to stone,
And a good deed that calls itself by tender names becomes the parent to a curse.
— Kahlil Gibran

Kept me from killing myself.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
— Rev. John Watson

Flowers were delivered to me on my birthday when I was 19. He lived in New York and I was in California. We had been best friends since we were 12 years old.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Brought Thanksgiving dinner to me when I was alone, 20 years old, and hungry.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
— Mother Teresa

A total stranger whom we invited to our annual Christmas party arrived with a lovely little acoustic guitar for me to learn on. Three months later, after watching my determined dedication to practice, gifted me a tiffany blue Fender Stratocaster. I was floored! No, he's not wealthy, but he is a very kind and generous guitar tech.

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A friend helped get my apartment and food until I got on my feet with a job. She was what started me into paying it forward.

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. They are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
— Joseph Addison

A friend made scrapbooks for me, I have never had someone do something that nice for me — a beautiful keepsake of family pictures that I can pass on to my son.

Nobody appears inferior to us when our heart is kindled with kindness.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan

Oh, so many lovely things, but to see friends at your door with food and care and concern while your world is falling apart is pretty wonderful.

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.
— Theodore Isaac Rubin

Loved me when I wasn't loving myself.

If you always assume the person sitting next to you is the Messiah waiting for some human kindness, you will soon come to weigh your words and watch your hands. 
And if he/she so chooses not to reveal him/herself in your time, it will not matter.
— A Rabbi’s Proverb

In the 76 years I've been alive it would be impossible to nail down just one thing, but my mentor and teacher would have to be the one that qualifies. She has been helping me with understanding and following the path of the Andean people and is giving me the Muni Ki rites of the Q'ero Indians. Such a beautiful and spiritually fulfilling path. I am thankful for finding her every day.

One kind word can warm three winter months.
— Japanese proverb

I had not seen my friend in 35 years. We spoke, we sent messages, but she was 6,000 miles away. She and her family paid for my trip to see her; it was the first holiday I had had in 27 years. And to top that, friends of hers were so moved about our story they bought tickets for us to go to Hawaii together! I got five weeks with my friend and it was like we had never parted, just picked up where we left off! I got to see Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Washington state, eagles flying, mountains, the biggest tree I had ever seen, i will never forget the moment I saw all of this beauty with my own eyes, but the one thing I will treasure all of my life was the moment I saw Julie waiting for me in the airport — that hug was amazing!

Kindness it is that brings forth kindness always.
— Sophocles

So many people helped me make it through my teen years! Gave me safe places to stay, invited me over for dinner when they knew I was hungry, helped me find places to keep my horse, helped me obtain scholarships for high school and college, encouraged me to apply to college when I was afraid to (Vassar!). So many wonderful people were so supportive of me when I needed help. 

To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Wow, so many angels out there, reading beautiful posts opened my heart to loveliness and warmth to remember to never walk away from someone that needs you.

He that does good to another does good also to himself.
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

My husband has dementia and had a realistic dream in the middle of the night. My lovely friend said she will come the next time it happens, even if it's in the middle of the night.

An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it.
— Maurice Maeterlinck

A friend came and looked after me when I was bad with tonsillitis. She took my kids to school and picked them up and made sure I had meds and food, Will never forget this kindness.

If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
— Loretta Girzartis

A kindly lady at a coffee kiosk must have sensed I was going through a hard time and gave me a gentle compliment that lifted my spirits. I remember it still because it was so unexpected and so very kind.

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Helped me by bringing me food, putting gas in my car, and sending me their Bingo winnings when I had no money to make it to the next payday due to unforeseen expenses. I'll always be grateful to those wonderful ladies for stepping in to help.

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
— Albert Schweitzer

Two friends gave me a combined $800 to help with rent and bills when I was out of work for five weeks due to a severe case of shingles.

Your smallest gift may alleviate a great suffering.
— Yugoslavian proverb

Let me live with them rent-free while going through hard times.

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.
— Aesop

As I was living with my family in Ireland in the countryside (I'm a German), I found every Christmas morning a big bag of potatoes in front of my door. I could never find out who gave it.

Kind thoughts are rarer than either kind words or deeds. They imply a great deal of thinking about others. This in itself is rare. But they also imply a great deal of thinking about others without the thoughts being criticisms. This is rarer still.
— Frederick Faber

As a 22-year-old single mother, I lived on my own. All my family had moved four hours away from home, my close friends had moved out of state. I was working about 25-30 hours a week and taking five college courses. The local YMCA (one woman specifically) made it possible for me to have daycare for my son. I worked, took classes, and commuted only during daycare hours.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution.
— Kahlil Gibran

Took me into their home and loved me when I had forgotten to love myself. Held me until I was on my feet again. Not enough words to convey my gratitude.

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
— James M. Barrie

Held my hand. Last summer I had to say goodbye to my Mom, then my dog, and lastly my cat of 21 years. As I was building a wall around myself, a very special person saddled up beside and held my hand. She helped more than she could ever know.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
— Mother Teresa

Took care of me after major surgery. So much love and gratitude go out to my best friend; without him I would not be where I am today. I thank the Lord our God every day for putting my friend in my life.

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind Is all the sad world needs.
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Loved me when I wasn't very lovable.

Do not consider any act of kindness insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.
— Muhammad

My kidney recipient, who I did not know previously, was in my state for surgery that he never recovered from. His two children who I had never met invited me to come and say goodbye to him before he was taken off of life support. They cannot possibly understand how immensely important that was for my soul, to be allowed into their most painful time, invited to be with them and say my own goodbyes to a soul I am still intricately connected to somehow in a way that I cannot describe. 

Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. As Collingwood never saw a vacant place in his estate but he took an acorn out of his pocket and popped it in, so deal with your compliments through life. An acorn costs nothing; but it may sprout into a prodigious bit of timber.
— William Makepeace Thackeray

I allowed a friend to gift me a ticket to see The Lion King, which she couldn’t use and I offered to buy. She insisted on gifting it to me and I was given the opportunity to receive and be grateful. And seeing the Lion King was delightful!!

When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.
— Abraham Joshua Heschel

Gave us a car when we were down and out in a small town with five children. All this person asked was that we pay it forward.

We should do good whenever we can and do kindness at all times, for at all times we can.
— Joseph Joubert

Giving me shelter when I was jobless.

Choose being kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time.
— Richard Carlson

My family was displaced because of sexual and physical abuse from their father and my husband. After nine months of living in a domestic violence shelter where my six children and I all lived in the same room, a wonderful couple in a nearby hippy village came to our rescue and let us rent their beautiful 4-bedroom home through the government-run programs. When no one else would consider us, this couple really came through for us without really knowing us.

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find it out.
— Frank A. Clark

I had a girl that I barely knew send me $500 to a GoFundMe account for my cancer treatment.

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creatures, let me do it now.
— Proverbial wisdom

In the 1990s when I went to the U.S. to do a master's, I rented a room close to campus at an old lady's home. After a few months she told me that I brought so much joy to her life just by being there and sharing my ethnic food with her, so she decided that I will not pay the rent for the rest of the time left. I became close to her kids and daughter-in-law. I graduated, left the U.S., and seven years later came back for a PhD to another state. During my first week, the daughter-in-law and her mom drove eight hours to welcome me and help me get settled. They paid for all my bedroom furniture, a desk, and a chair, and paid a deposit for my computer. I really cried because my whole life I am a giver and very rarely receive.

The world needs all of our power and love and energy, and each of us has something to give. The trick is to find it and use it, to find it and give it away, so there will always be more. We can be lights for each other,  and through each other's illumination we will see the way. Each of us is a seed, a silent promise, and it is always spring.
– Merle Shain

Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.

This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 18: Readers Write