As I walked through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Wednesday, a message called out to me through the crowd of travelers hurrying to make their connections: “Be kind to other people.” This message was printed in bold white letters on the back of a maroon t-shirt worn by a petite blond woman.
I’m not usually one to initiate conversations with my fellow travelers, but in this case I found myself hurrying to catch up to the message and the woman so I could ask her about it. Fortunately, we were heading for the same escalator and I managed to squeeze in right behind her.
After allowing me to take a picture of her t-shirt, my new airport friend explained that she bought it at a small family-run café in Colorado. She showed me the café logo on the front and said she wears it in the hopes that the message on the back will inspire others to always choose kindness, especially during a potentially stressful situation like air travel. I thanked her for sending such positive energy out into the world, she thanked me for initiating the conversation with her, and when we reached the bottom of the escalator we went our separate ways.
When I think about world changers, I usually think about people who are tackling huge problems like world peace, deadly diseases, hunger, homelessness, and poverty. Yet, my new friend with her “Be kind to other people” t-shirt is a world changer too. She is simply and subtly spreading her message of kindness and creating a ripple effect as she goes.
I like to think of myself as a kind person (thanks Mom and Dad for the good upbringing), but after that interaction I felt the need to be proactively kind. As I went through the rest of my trip and the rest of that day, I found myself seeking out opportunities to make someone else’s day better. And now, a few days later, here I am still talking about it – all because of a message on a t-shirt.
It’s easy to create a kinder and gentler world for someone else through a smile, a compliment, an offer to help. But it’s just as easy to get caught up in what is going on in our own worlds – a delayed flight, an impending deadline, an argument with a spouse – and forget about the opportunity we have each day to create a ripple effect of kindness. So as the t-shirt was a reminder to me, here is my reminder to you – wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, and whatever life throws at you: “Be kind to other people.” Always.
(And how I wish I had written down the name of the café when she showed me the logo on the front! If this rings a bell with you, please send me an email.)
Looking for an extra dose of inspiration today? The blog posts below are just what you need: