Friday, August 16, 2013

The Power of Kindness

The year was 1863, on a spring day in Northern Pennsylvania. A poor boy was selling goods door-to-door to pay his way through school. He realized he had only a dime left, and that he was hungry. So he decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and quit.
Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested from the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:

Dr. Howard Kelly*
*Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. According to Dr. Kelly's biographer, Audrey Davis, the doctor was on a walking trip through Northern Pennsylvania one spring day when he stopped by a farm house for a drink of water.
This beautiful story about Dr. Howard Kelly is one of many true stories found in The Power of Kindness. I love the quote from Leo Buscaglia:
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Quite frankly, this is the part about kindness that we all understand. But it's the other part that many of us fail to grasp.

That is...practicing random acts of kindness can change our lives! And that is what this book is all about.

The great English writer, Aldous Huxley, was a pioneer in the study techniques to develop human potential. In a lecture toward the end of his life, he said this:
"People often ask me...what is the most effective technique for transforming their lives?"
He then said, "It's a little embarrassing that after years and years of research, my best answer is—just be a little kinder."

This is the paradox of the power of kindness. It doesn't feel powerful at all. In fact, it almost feels too simple to be important. But as Huxley said, it is the #1 thing that can transform your life.

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