A Former School Teacher is Uniting the World Through Kindness
The aftermath of the recent US election. The Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Aleppo. It’s easy to feel a bit down given these and other current events. When there’s so much hurt in the world, we hurt too. And sometimes it’s easy to feel so overwhelmed by it all that we’re not even sure what to do, or how we could possibly help.
During uncertain times, what can we do to stay on a path of positivity? How can we keep our chin up to continue living our journey and making a difference?
That’s what Orly Wahba—founder and CEO of Life Vest Inside (LVI), a non-profit dedicated to empowering the masses to engage in acts of love and kindness—wondered when she was dealt her own devastating news 10 years ago.
Then a middle school teacher, Orly and her family were traveling over the winter holiday when she had a stopover at an airport and heard via voice mail message the tragic news that a 6-year-old girl in her community had just passed away. Completely devastated, the first thing she thought of was her 7th grade students back home, who had just lost a classmate three years earlier and were beginning only recently to open up to her about it.
In a video on her website, Orly explains, “I said to myself, what am I going to tell these girls when I get back? How am I going to be able to explain to them that something, yet again, so tragic happened? How do you stay afloat in a world that just seems to be pulling you downward?”
Grab a Life Vest. It’s Inside You.
When the flight attendant seated her back on the plane in a seat in which she wasn’t originally supposed to be, Orly noticed a small sign bearing three words that would change her life forever: Life Vest Inside.
What Orly took from that literal and figurative decal was that we all have a life vest inside of us—flotation devices that can be found through the kindness we bestow on others and the kindness others bestow upon us. And while we can’t prevent life’s obstacles and curve balls, we can extend someone a life vest when they’re in need.
In 2011, Orly stepped down from her teaching role to spread her message more broadly and focus full-time on her “why”—inspiring and motivating people to make the world a kinder place.
Today, LVI equips people worldwide with the necessary tools to recognize their own potential to become a catalyst for positive change in the world. As part of their efforts to fuel kindness and create a more unified world, LVI has developed 4 key kindness initiatives to help transform inspiration into action:
- Dance for Kindness Worldwide Flashmob, an annual global event inspiring thousands of people of all ages to unite in honor of World Kindness Day.
- Project Hope Exchange, which collects, aggregates and shares 30-second audio messages from individuals who have survived some kind of adversity to others who are facing that same adversity.
- Kindness Ambassadors, a group of volunteers who are dedicated to taking an active role in supporting the kindness movement.
- Kindness Curricula, which is designed to proactively address social issues plaguing our youth, including bullying, depression, and substance abuse.
Kindness – It’s Good for Your Health
As Orly’s non-profit took off, her kindness community began growing by the thousands, and she witnessed more and more people starting to experience the addictiveness in the giving of kindness.
“They started feeling powerful and getting excited,” she said during her Ted Talk. “The ripple effect of kindness, it was infectious.”
And it turns out, this is one addiction that is actually good for you.
Research shows, spreading kindness is good for your health. It stimulates production of serotonin, which heals your wounds, calms you down, and makes you happy. Acts of kindness also increase your endorphins, your brain’s natural pain killer. Other benefits include the production of oxytocin, which creates an immediate calming effect, promotes social bonding, increases trust and generosity, and strengthens the immune system.
Indeed, every act of kindness is a healthy one—for the giver, receiver, and even those who witness acts of kindness.
Spreading Kindness – One Small Act at a Time
So how do you start spreading kindness? And how to do you fit it in during the hustle and bustle of everyday life—especially with the holiday season in full swing, which brings with it even more busyness than usual?
“When we start doing kindness and looking for it, we start seeing opportunities everywhere,” says Orly.
Like smiling at people at the grocery store, offering a seat to someone on public transportation, or buying lunch for a homeless person. Small acts of kindness take very little time and are easy to do. In fact Orly’s award-winning film, Kindness Boomerang tracks an act of kindness as its passed from one individual to the next—showing exactly how those small acts of kindness can come to life. To date, the film has received more than 30 million views worldwide. Haven’t seen it yet? You’re in luck. Here it is.
Pick a Card, Any Card
If you need more inspiration to get you started, you can always check out LVI’s Act of Kindness cards. Each deck comes with 26 different Acts of Kindness cards, offering inspiration for the awesome kindness opportunities that surround you. Once you perform the act, you pass the card to someone else to keep the kindness chain going.
Both the regular and kids’ versions of the Acts of Kindness cards available for purchase in the LVI store. Hint, hint—the holidays are coming up.
As Orly models, there are so many ways to change the world. You don’t have to be a millionaire to do it. Everyday kindness is something that is accessible to everyone. And yet one simple act of kindness can have unknown and profound consequences.
So if you’re feeling down about what you’re seeing on the news or social media, unplug from it. Put your phone down. Get off Facebook. Turn off your TV.
Instead, tune into ways you can help others. Because kindness keeps the world afloat, including yourself.