Lend a Hand (Literally)

How we can change the world by reaching out

I’ve just returned from a three week trip to France. Aside from the beautiful landscapes, amazing foods, perfect pastries, gorgeous architecture and rich history, here’s something that absolutely wow’d me: the kindness of strangers.

I was lugging a 50-pound suitcase with me up and down the numerous and lengthy staircases of the many train and metro stations in France. And you know what? In EVERY single train station I was in, as I was hefting and heaving my luggage, someone would come up to me and smile — and ask if I needed help.

I was actually quite fine with my own lugging of luggage; I don’t mind that extra exercise. I like to see it as my own strength challenge; however, I would always smile in return and give a hearty, “Oui! Merci beaucoup!” It was a wonderful way to connect briefly with someone and also to RECEIVE the goodness of someone’s heart.

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I love the memory of those moments of togetherness going up or down stairs with the two of us sharing the load. Inevitably, when we got to the bottom (or  top) of a big set of stairs, we’d pause and I would thank the person again — and share another genuine smile together.

This may seem like a small thing. You may think it is hardly worth writing about; but these kinds of kindnesses really can change the world.

I know for myself, my spirits were lifted every single time. It wasn’t just the offer of help. It wasn’t just the help itself. It was that a stranger out there SAW ME and found a place in their heart that they wanted to offer a hand.

It made a big difference in my day. Every time. And, I noticed it made me want to be kinder to others!

There are so many horrific and tragic news stories right now. (And kind of always.) It can be easy to look at humanity and fear strangers. It can be easy to think the world is filled with meanness and evil; however, each of these helping hands was a beacon of light and hope for me.

There is such goodness out there!

Obviously, I only gave you one example of helping hands. While I was traveling so many people also helped me with directions, helped me find a cardboard box in which to mail a package, helped me navigate the automated post office mailing system, helped me when my metro ticket wouldn’t work, helped me find a specific store or street, helped me learn new words and so much more. It felt to me as if people were simply at the ready to offer a smile and some assistance everywhere I turned!

There are so many strangers who are looking out for others and who want to help.

How about if we all commit to being that helping hand and that HOPE for someone else?

you can help others helpful charity donation concept

Here are some ways we could be on the lookout for folks who need a hand:

  • Help someone with their heavy luggage at a bus station, train station or airport.
  • Hold the door open for someone at the grocery store who has their arms full.
  • Offer directions to someone who is standing on a street corner with a map, looking lost.
  • Offer to take a photo for tourists who are struggling to get a good selfie.
  • Smile sincerely at a mom who is struggling with a crying infant or angry toddler.
  • Help someone look for a lost item under the table or in a busy place.
  • Interpret for someone who doesn’t speak the language.
  • Walk someone to the bus stop they can’t find.
  • Summon a policeman or other official when a stranger is in distress.
  • Offer an arm to an elderly person navigating steep stairs or cobblestones.

Share other ideas in the comments below! I’d love to hear ways that you have helped or been of help!

Don’t forget, the world needs your kindness!

Sherry’s mission is helping people find creative, intentional and impactful ways to celebrate life and to express love for family and friends. Visit her website or email her to say hello at Sherry@simplycelebrate.net. Sherry’s book, “Say it Now; 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life,” is now available on Amazon. Join Sherry’s free 5-day challenge, "Olly Olly Oxen Free: Permission and Belonging," here.

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