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Kindness is Contagious: You never know when you might catch kindness

Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist.

I know kindness is contagious because I’ve witnessed it in action time and time again. Hundreds of stories from readers like you have solidified my belief that kindness goes around and comes around much more frequently than we could imagine.

Sometimes, we do an act of kindness that prompts someone else to “pay it forward.” We never know where the kindness goes or who the recipient may be, but we can trust that it’s moving.

Other times, we give and we get in such quick succession it’s almost like the universe is saying, “Thanks for helping that person out. Now let me help you.” That’s what happened to Carolyn Erickson from Amidon, N.D. She never expected the kindness she showed a stranger to come back to her aid so quickly.

“We were staying at a hotel in Bismarck, N.D., the day after Christmas. I was enjoying an early cup of coffee in the lobby. A gentleman came in after trying with no luck to start his car. We were in the middle of a snowstorm, but he needed to get his grandson to the airport. The man’s battery was dead so he called a service garage for help, but they couldn’t get to him for another 45 minutes.

"I could see his frustration was increasing and I thought I might be able to help him by letting him ‘borrow’ my 81-year-old husband and our jumper cables. So, my husband, Jerry, braved the cold and snow, got out the jumper cables, got the man’s car going and brushed the snow off his car while he came back in to get his grandson.

"The gentleman expressed his gratitude to me and then offered to pay my husband. Of course, we are ‘North Dakota nice’ and would never accept pay for an act of kindness. But there’s more to the story.

"Later that day, we became terribly stuck in the snow near a restaurant. A young, kind gentleman came along and said, ‘Would you like me to get in behind the wheel? I think I can get you out of the snowbank.’ In no time, this wonderful man had us on our way. Bless his heart. Good deeds always have good returns.”

I know we don’t do acts of kindness for the return. We don’t have imaginary bank accounts that rise and fall with each good deed we’ve done. Kindness is about giving what we can to the person in front of us when our heart prompts us to take action, with no expectation in return.

When we live each day wondering who we might help today, it changes us. It makes us more likely to see the need in front of us. We become better at it.

But the very amazing thing about this sort of kindness adventure is that it’s not just happening to us. There are a world of people catching kindness, and every once in a while we find them just when we need them.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her three children and her husband, Ohio University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.