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The Power of Kindness

The FuneralThe last few months have been hard for me. I’ve had some issues with depression and paranoia. Living with schizophrenia is a rollercoaster and even little blips can turn into crises.

This depression, though, has had me feeling a deep sense of loneliness. The paranoia makes me feel ostracized from the world, and it’s really hard to feel like no matter where you go, you’ll never fit in.

This was weighing on me the other day until something happened that struck me. It put a long-overdue, sorely-needed smile on my face.

It wasn’t anything big, it was just some minor little show of gratitude that reinforced the idea to me that people can be kind to each other.

I was driving on the highway, about to turn off on an exit, and a woman in the lane next to me put on her blinker to get into my lane. I slowed down and let her in and the next thing I know, she’s giving me the biggest wave I’ve seen in a while.

Normally when I let someone into my lane they don’t wave, perhaps an indication of the rampant disillusionment of living in today’s society? Anyway, she waved and she waved like she meant it. I waved back and before I knew it a smile cracked across my face and I said, “Thank you for waving!” Nobody heard me because I was alone in my car but just the fact that this unknown woman showed such gratitude for something so simple restored my faith in humanity.

The paranoia had me thinking that everybody was meanspirited and cold and I said to myself, “There are some kind people in the world.”

The point of all this is to illustrate the fact that I think it’s extremely necessary for us to take the time to show kindness to strangers. Just a simple gesture or a kind word can have a world of impact for someone, especially if they’re having a hard time.

It seems as if we’re all so busy, so preoccupied with getting things done, or getting to where we need to be that we forget that we live on this planet with seven billion other people. These are people who at their core need to feel like they belong. They need to feel like they’re not just taking up space. Some of them are having a rough time. Many millions of them are suffering with depression or paranoia. The simple gesture of a wave or a smile, a kind word or a show of gratitude can prove to them in a vulnerable moment that they’re valuable.

In rough times I keep remembering a story I heard from Chicken Soup for the Soul where, although the specifics are rough, a kind word was exchanged with a stranger on a train. The stranger was preparing to commit suicide and because of that kind word, their world was changed and they chose to keep up the fight.

The point of all this is that you never know who’s struggling and it’s extremely easy to change not only someone’s day but also their life with a show of kindness.

It’s certainly not that hard to be kind to people. If we could all be a little more caring to strangers you never know what could happen.

The Power of Kindness


Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here


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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). The Power of Kindness. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 23, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-power-of-kindness/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.