Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Be Someone Nicer: The Surprising Power of Kindness

yellow rose.jpg
In her book “The Second Neurotic’s Notebook” (what a great title!) American journalist Mignon McLaughlin wrote: “Don’t be yourself, be someone a little nicer.” I love that. And also the Dalai Lama’s advice, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”


I’m not sure if I’ve ever told this story on Beyond Blue. I did in my book, “Beyond Blue”…. It was one act of kindness from a high school religion teacher that had the power to shift my momentum from one of self-destruction when I was 18 to one of healing and recovery. Knowing the symbolism and significance of roses for me, she sent me three red roses at an impressionable point in my life, when I could have easily stayed asleep and continued coasting through life not really caring to confront the gunk inside. Her kindness woke me up and nudged me toward a road less traveled, a harder but ultimately more fertile path.


So I was especially moved by an email that I received from a woman who, having read the story about my teacher in my book “Beyond Blue,” went out of her way to express the same kind of kindness to one of her students. I include her letter below, because she describes it much better than I:

I am a sixth grade teacher, age 49. A couple of months ago your book caught my eye in our local library. A recent hysterectomy had caused me to re-visit some issues that bothered me during my college years: bio-chemical mood swings. However, I was not suffering too much.

Until I faced a crises. One day I went to work and got some very bad news- news that would affect my job, a friendship, a ministry, and all the hopes and dreams that went with those. I felt myself become very hot as the announcement was made. Then I went to the bathroom, crashed to the floor, and threw up. Needless to say, I got a substitute that day and went home.


At that point I realized how fragile I actually was. And while I returned to work, I went with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart!

A few days later I got an e-mail from a counselor. “You are getting a new student. She and three siblings have been placed in a shelter. She is very sensitive and upset.”

On her first full day she came in early (she has me first period) with tears in her eyes. I had tears in my eyes from my crises. I said, “I know you have been through a bad thing. I have been through something bad, too. I want you to know that God put you with me for a reason.”

After that we had some school holidays, and I kept reading “Beyond Blue.” I was very moved by what you said that the gift of flowers made a HUGE difference in your life and the life of your mother.


Because of your writing, God put it in my heart to give this child flowers. I bought a vase and flowers and took it to the shelter- which is run by nuns. They were very protective, “grilled me” a little, didn’t let me see the child, and informed me that the flowers could not be in the girl’s room because the vase was glass. But they accepted them and let me write her a note.

After the holidays the child told me “thank you”, and I continued to try to reach her gently every day- hello, little pat on the shoulder, etc.

Then came Valentine’s Day. I don’t know how the child got to go shopping, or where she got the money, but she gave me a carnation and a nice box of chocolates. She also gave me a card with the following note:


Dear Mrs. T,

Thank you for the flowers that you sent me they were really beautiful. Thank you for caring for me. I never really had a teacher caring for me my others teachers in my old school didn’t even cared. I hope you like the stuff I got for you. I care about you a lot. You are always there for me when I need you. When I’m having a bad or sad day and when I see you my problems just go away and I’m happy again. You are my best friend in the whole entire world. You are really nice and are the best teacher. Hope you have a happy Valentine’s day. See you later. bye.

P.S. Thanks for being there when I need you. LOVE YOU!!

You really never know how far one act of kindness might go. This story is proof of that.


Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • Lisa

    I agreed that “The Second Neurotic’s Notebook” was a great title, and I went in search of it on Amazon. Must be more than a great title — the hardcover version is only 93 pages but the book sells for $239.00 and UP!!
    If there’s good stuff in there — perhaps folks should let the publishers know that they would appreciate an e-book version, ’cause I certainly can’t afford a “real” copy!!

  • Heidi

    Hi Lisa,
    you can find some of the quotes when you g…gle the title of the book

  • Jules

    Your own soul is nourished when you are kind. Proverbs 11:17 This verse helps me remember that even when I give to others it returns itself to me. I loved this article. Thank you Therese for this blog.

  • lesley v

    giving is the key to living a full life. your story made me pause and thank the universe that I am able and willing to give as I do and I am encouraged to give more whenever I can. the hardest thing is to start at home. Namaste and Om Namah Shivaya.
    Om Shanthi,
    lesley v

  • JiLLB

    I try to make it a practice of “kindness” ministry (for lack of a better word). I love to send cards, so when someone is struggling, or has an accomplishment. Not only does it show someone is thinking of and praying for them, but who doesn’t like personal mail? I’m the person who holds the door or elevator for someone or gives up my seat to someone elderly (if possible) or lets a car into traffic (do unto others, right?). I like to buy bottles of water and give them to construction workers (coffee is a little more difficult since it’s not possible to get it pre-sealed; they may question a straneg woman giving them coffee. Sure, my husband thinks I’m nuts for all of this, but I think it’s one easy way I can show God’s love, and yes, it can distract me from my own depression – if only for a few minutes.

  • Frederick Arend

    Its easy for most women to be kind to the baby that they can see, but, somehow, if the baby is inside of theme and they cannot see it, then, a disconnect occurs, they no longer recognize there unborn baby as a living human being, although, in the scientific laboratory, the reproductive surgeon has to make the desecsion whether or not the baby is alive before implanting it in the women’s reproductive tract.Be kind to those you can’t see, as well as those you can see,

  • Skylark

    “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days”…Ecclesiastes 11:1! Or as is more popular today..”Pass it forward”..or “one good deed deserves another”…Where-ever the thought of acts of kindness originates, the belief that we can heal one another through our acts of kindness is a wonderful ministry…one that ends up back at our own doorstep many times…not always it may seem…but in the end, perhaps not even in this life, butit will eventually come back to us…the eternal circle of love. God bless you Theresa for this post ….will touch everyone who reads! And hopefully change lives for the better. I was so touched by the story of your email teacher friend…What could have been so horrific in the life of that little girl that the gift of a vase of flowers could be surmised as “dangerous” for her..the glass vase? It makes me weep to think that there are children in this world like this one who never get the flowers…the act of kindness…that might save their lives. Perhaps that is where the Stalins, the Hitlers, etc come from…and why Christ has said we must love and pray even for our enemies….the ripple effect of these acts of kindness..we must keep them going…some lives may be turned around with just a warm smile! Surely our own will be changed by the concerted effort it takes sometimes to do a kindness…especially when we least feel like doing it..when we are deep in the throes of personal hurt.

  • Skylark

    Thank you for the suggestion to google Mignon McLaughlin for more of her pithy quotes ( Beats paying $239 for one of her used books!!)
    Two more I would like to share:
    (1) “When suffering comes, we yearn for a sign from God, forgetting
    we have just had one!”
    (2) ” Youth is not enough. And love is not enough. And success is not
    enough. And, if we could achieve it, enough would not be
    enough!” ( like my mother used to say..”for some people there
    is never enough”…how true!)

  • Shikha

    The article doesnt only rest on the suprising power of Kindness but it is actually Charismatic Power of Kindness….
    A wonderful article…..Loved it…..

  • Erin

    Such a beautiful story, Therese! And just think… that high school religion teacher of yours could never have foreseen that her act of kindness to you–3 red roses all those years ago–would still be impacting lives today. So touching, and a good reminder to us all.

  • man hair loss

    one of the trending videos in facebook and youtube is of a little girl crying over the death of a fictional character of one of the tele novelas, which i recently found the interest of watching. the character who died was the one of the nicest person ever made, even for a tv program. and you can just see how much her death affected that little girl, she was crying for a good three minute, and even before the video started, she was shouting as if the one who died is a family member, just shows how the kindness of that character affected her.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sheri

    Loved this! My motto to live by is to Love, comfort and support each other as Jesus taught us. You’re right, you never know how far one act a kindness can reach.

    Recently I was a little down because many cards I’ve sent the last several months have not been acknowledged by the receiver. I guess I can only assume that the mail was received and pray that the receiver received my heart-felt message. Today I received a very lovely Easter card from a friend thanking me for all I do for her in our prayer circle. Made my day and helped me make my decision not to stop sending cards of encouragement.

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