In this fast-paced, ever changing world in which I live, the one thing that has not changed for me is the healing power of kindness and helping others.
The single most important action that helps me move forward whenever I am faced with adversity and/or stressful situations, is the act of helping others.
When I think back to times in my life, when I felt like I had no idea about how to help myself, I reached out and found others who needed my help. I intuitively knew and understood that the best way to feel better was to try to cheer up someone else.
I believe that helping others is actually one of the most powerful ways of helping yourself... taking the focus off your own problems. It is like taking a badly needed vacation from the heartache and worry of your own life.
Often, people who have been faced with a tragedy, choose to find a way to channel their emotions about that unfortunate situation by focusing on something positive. Many who have experienced major devastating losses, value and appreciate life on a whole new level. They often feel compelled to help others, dedicating a good part of their lives to supporting and fund-raising for various charities, foundations and organizations.
Many people carry out incredible acts of kindness, concern and compassion, thus providing fulfillment and satisfaction for both themselves and the receivers. This lifestyle is central to their lives.
For me, knowing that I have had, and can have, a positive impact on others makes my life meaningful and worthwhile.
It always amazes me how people express their gratitude for, and are in awe of, heroic people. We admire those who have the courage and determination to do whatever it takes, in some cases, even risk their own lives, in order to save others. Police, firefighters and paramedics are obvious examples. When these "heroes" do something sensational, they are awarded medals, media attention, and are flooded with recognition. When someone is being saved from a burning house, or talked down from jumping off the ledge of a high building, people are rooting for the victim and a successful rescue is exhilarating.
The reality is that we do not have to be professional "life-savers" to help people. Each of us can choose to live a meaningful life, to have a positive impact on others, and to embrace and help people in need. No cameras. No medals. No public recognition... just ordinary "heroics" by ordinary people. I believe that there is "magic" in kindness.
Here is an example: I spend ridiculous amounts of time at supermarkets, and I am instantly drawn to playing one of my favourite "games" when I encounter a cashier who looks unhappy.
Rather than becoming irritated and starting the rant in my head about how the cashier should be happy to have a job at all, stop looking so despondent and put a smile on her face, blah, blah blah, I begin to chat. I chit chat about anything... until I see a smile. I have held up lines waiting for the smile, much to the dismay of the people behind me, but that's part of the game.
Why? Because she tugs at my heart and it feels good to reach out and be caring about another human being -- to look beyond the outward expression and into her heart. That is my way of touching the life of another and hopefully brightening her day. That is also when it is clear to me that when I choose kindness and compassion, I find a way to shift darkness towards the light. And when I succeed, the feeling for me is amazing, and I realize that there is "power" in kindness.
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