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The Power of Kindness by Dr Steve Taubman

The Power of Kindness by Dr. Steve Taubman
excerpted from UnHypnosis (

Sometimes a random word of kindness is all that's necessary to transform
someone's entire existence, and it's so little cost to us. There's a wonderful story
I heard several years ago. The teller, we'll call him John, claimed that it was
true. John had just come from a self-help seminar in which the instructor had
recommended that the participants find something good to say to everyone they
meet. Walking down the street, John encountered a homeless man, dirty, dejected,
slumped, and dressed in rags. He asked for loose change, and John obliged him.
Then, remembering his instructor's advice, he sought something nice to say to
the beggar, but all he could notice that wasn't hideous were the man's socks.
They were red and appeared cleaner than the rest of his outfit. John looked the
man in the eye, said "Nice socks!" smiled, and walked on.

A couple weeks later, John was walking down the same street, and he saw the
same man. But this time, he wasn't begging. He wasn't dirty. He wasn't slumped.
And, he wasn't dressed in rags. He recognized John at once and walked briskly
towards him, smiling, with moisture in his eyes. He shook John's hand vigorously
and told him the following story. "For the last few years, my life has been very
hard. I fell on bad times. I lost my wife, my family, my job, and my home. I
began to drink and lost all sense of pride. Eventually, I sank as low as I could
go. The day you saw me, I had decided to kill myself. I'd already gotten a gun
and was going to use it on myself that afternoon. I'd reasoned that my life
didn't matter and that nobody would miss me. I was certain that there wasn't
another human being who even noticed me as a person. When you stopped to speak with
me, you looked kind. You looked right at me, as if I really mattered. Then, you
complimented my socks. They were new and the only thing in which I took any
pride. Your words and your kindness made me think that perhaps there was more hope
to be had than I realized. Perhaps I did matter. Perhaps I was noticeable. I
resolved that day to turn over a new leaf. I got cleaned up. I found nice clothes
at the Salvation Army. I stopped drinking. I went to an AA meeting, and I even
started looking for a job. I want to thank you...for giving me my life
back."Then, he hugged John, looked him deeply in the eye and walked away, leaving John
in a state of shock, his eyes filled with tears and with a stronger
appreciation than ever of the power of a kind word.

How often are we given the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life
and fail to realize the power we possess? How often do we take our words for
granted, unaware of their life-changing capabilities? How often do we opt for
being curt or dismissive, when it would take no more effort to be empowering and
loving? I hope that you, like me, are moved by this story and that you'll now
make the effort to say words of kindness and encouragement...on the chance that
they will change someone's life.

Dr. Steve Taubman

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