A kind word and a smile

March 19th, 2015


Wisdom comes from many sources.


Professors, professionals and pariahs can all offer pieces of knowledge. You never know what you can learn from another person.


I once picked up a nugget of wisdom from a man I don’t always agree with, but deeply respect. He said: “Be nice to the little people. The people you meet on the way up are the same people you’ll meet on the way down.”


On its face, the quip seems curious. But it is a philosophy that we would be wise to adopt.


While I am 50 percent Irish, “little people” does not refer to leprechauns or short people. “Little people” signifies common working men and women.


As students at John Carroll University, we encounter these “little people” every day. The maintenance men who fix our heaters, the cleaners who tidy up our classrooms and the cafeteria workers who dole out food to us are just a few examples.


These hard working men and women toil night and day to ensure we have a pleasant experience at JCU. They work in plain sight, easy to see on a daily basis. How often do we acknowledge them with a “hello” or even with a smile and a nod?


The second part of the advice offers a reason why we should treat others well. While we might enjoy a higher social status than, say, a plumber or janitor, we will need their help one day. Life has a way of knocking you down a peg or two.


To further apply the quote, don’t just be nice to your boss and the CEO of the company. Treat the administrative assistants with kindness. If you’re a JCU upper classman, treat freshmen with respect. One day, that person might be in a position to help you.


Will you choose kindness, which requires little effort? Or, will you choose neglect and disinterest, risking a big loss later?


On a deeper level, don’t just be kind to others in order to build up good karma. Treat others well  because it is the right thing to do.


You wield certain measure of power here at JCU. At the beginning of every day, as you stumble out of your room in the morning, a new opportunity arises.


You have the ability to make others smile, and help them feel happy. You can change the days, and lives, of others.


All it takes is a kind word and a smile.


What’s stopping you? I see several happy JCU students pause and say hello to everyone they meet. Have you ever noticed that these people tend to be the happiest?


Spreading kindness to others takes so little, but it can have big benefits. Try it today and see how it feels. I can promise you that if you’re sincere, you’ll feel just a  bit happier.


Being kind to others isn’t always easy. Bad days happen. It’s easy for negativity to cloud our view of others and our outlook on life.


As tough as it can be sometimes, just remember that a little effort can make a big impact.


Don’t just be kind to the “little people” because it can have positive effects on your life and career down the road. Treat others with kindness to make others happy, and see how your happiness grows as a result.