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The Power of Kindness: Life-Changing Advice About Creating Happiness

Flower for You

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

It was a beautiful winter’s day in Sydney. Having returned home after working for two years in Singapore and traveling through Asia, I felt like I owed it to myself to do something I loved.

My heart has always been in fitness and travel. When there was a job opening at my local travel agency, I applied, went for the interview, and got the position. I was a happy girl—but only for a short while.

Two months into my job, it didn’t feel right. I felt something was missing. And suddenly, everything that I thought I knew about my love for traveling went astray. I wasn’t satisfied with my job.

I had to decide if I wanted to stay or leave. I didn’t have a wealth of options. If I were to quit, I would be jobless for a while. The best I could have done was to spread my love and knowledge of fitness to my average of fifty daily blog visitors.

If I were to stay, I would have had to suck this up, being unhappy and unsatisfied.

I took the road less travelled and sent in my letter of resignation a few days after.

For weeks after that, I felt lost and uncertain. I wished I hadn’t resigned. I wondered: What am I going to eat? How am I going to sustain myself?

And then it happened, when I least expected it.

A seventy-five-year old lady came in on a rainy day. She had a medium sized stature, and she was of Asian descent with a rather intimidating face. She told me her name was Chan and that she would like to inquire about a trip to London to visit her daughter.

I was rather reluctant at first to help her out, thinking it might be yet another empty inquiry, but I thought about how I would feel if my parents were the ones walking into a travel agent, being treated unfairly.

I sat down at my desk, on my second-to-last day, with a genuine smile on my face.

My “empty inquiry” thoughts turned out to be true. Two hours into her consultation, she said she needed to think about everything I’d proposed. I told myself it was okay. The sale wasn’t meant to be; at least I’d helped her as much as I could.

Before she left, I had to tell her that it was my second-to-last day at work, and if she were to come in several days later, I wouldn’t be around to help her.

I thought she wouldn’t really care, but to my surprise, Mrs. Chan sat back down on her seat.

She started questioning me. She asked me where I was going, why was I quitting, and what my plans were after this.

I tried to be as honest as I could, telling her that the job wasn’t right for me and I didn’t have any concrete direction. All I had was my Physiology degree and a burning passion for fitness. I was half-hearted. My eyes got wetter and she could sense the doubts in my voice.

Like an angel sent from above, she held my hands and looked into my eyes.

“My dear, sometimes in life we’re being tested. We’re given directions and options and we have to weigh them. And sometimes, even after weighing on a multitude of scales, lengths, and units, it is perfectly normal not to be sure of anything.”

I kept silent. I was listening, my brain was processing.

“I just turned seventy-five last week. I want to book a trip to London to surprise my daughter who has been living there for three years. Three years ago, she was at the exact same position as you. The only difference is she was made redundant.”

Still listening, I was a tad surprised she was opening up about her life.

“Before I go on, I want to thank you for helping me through this inquiry. I am always skeptical about travel agents, but you proved that not all of you are the same. It’s a pity that this company is going to lose an exceptional young lady like you, but I’m happy for you. I could see it through your eyes as soon as I stepped into the store that you would be better off elsewhere. And I was right!” Mrs. Chan chuckled.

It was unbelievable hearing her speak when she’d seemed cold for the past two hours. Still, I continued listening.

“Now I’m going to tell you exactly what I told my daughter three years ago. If you’re doing anything in life that is making you unhappy, you should stop as soon as you can. You’re young. Set yourself free. Don’t waste time doing things you don’t enjoy doing.”

“Great, now she’s reading my mind,” I silently thought, still waiting for her next words.

“You might not know at this point in time if this is the right thing you’re doing. You might fail. You might be disappointed you left a good-paying job. But a good-paying job is nothing if you’re not happy.”

She continued, “Finish your duties here and step into the unknown world. You never know what you might discover. You should be out there seeing the world and helping people with your beautiful smile and kind soul.”

The tears I was vainly holding back started to roll down my cheeks.

“And if life hits you hard one day, remember you made the effort to pursue your dreams. You made memories. And you chased after what you loved the most. You will be okay.”

Her words hit me hard. I never knew I needed them until that moment. It was the most perfect timing in my life.

“That is all I can say to you. Like a seventy-five-year old knows any better!” she joked.

I wiped my tears and walked her out of the door. I wanted to hug her and just stay there in her arms, the arms of a stranger that I only knew for two hours, but I held myself back.

“And remember this—no matter what you do, be kind to others. That should be the fundamental base of all your actions.”

Stunned for the millionth time, I stood there, speechless. She left. I saw her walk away. I don’t even know her full name. Or her contact details.

I went home that night and hugged my mother. I needed it. I needed her. And I never knew I needed Mrs. Chan and her words.

It came to me because I was kind. And it came to me when I least expected it.

Being kind is the fundamental base of all my actions. And I will remember that for the rest of my life. 

Sometimes in life we meet people who are there to help and guide us, but we have to be open to receive it. Whether or not we choose to accept it, everyone wins when we’re all kind to one another.

Never underestimate the power of kindness. You never know how much happiness you can bring to someone’s life.

Photo by Kietaparta

About Aqilah Norazman

Aqilah Norazman makes mistakes but strives to learn from it. As a health coach, she teaches fitness, nutrition and being happy to her Pretty Awesome Fitness community and clients. Click here to grab her free eBook and follow her adventures that’ll leave you smiling.

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  • Lily

    “Finish your duties here and step into the unknown world. You never know what you might discover. You should be out there seeing the world and helping people with your beautiful smile and kind soul.”

    Oh dear Aquilah. You have sent me my ‘sign’. I have been worried about leaving a job I love to pursue travel that Ive been meaning to do for YEARS. And I freak out. But reading that, just brought it all back – why I want to do this is exactly there. Smile and help people and discover miracles 🙂

    Thank you SO much for sharing that. I hope your journey is going splendidly.

  • Meghan

    Thanks very much for sharing this post. Right before Christmas, I left a stable, well-paying job that was making me absolutely sick and miserable. It had literally consumed my life. I decided to move halfway across the country for a fresh start, with the ultimate goal of pursuing a graduate degree out here. The journey has not been easy. In fact, I still haven’t found a job yet and it’s really been getting me down.

    However, your post was a reminder that we shouldn’t spend any time in something that’s making us unhappy, it’s just not worth it! I am trusting that the right opportunity will come to me. I, too, often have no idea what direction I want to take career wise – thanks for the reminder that that is totally okay.

    Best wishes to you 🙂

  • Carla

    Wow. What an amazing post.

  • Brandon

    Very powerful!

  • Great Post, thank you Aqilah!

  • Victoria

    Crazy…just thinking about this today at work. I am a creative trapped in a collections job with a terrible manager. I am a bit in debt which is the reason I am still sitting here. I have freelance opportunities frequently to work in what I truly love, but its not enough to sustain me or keep me from ruining my credit if I don’t find another job that can provide me with enough money to sustain myself. I feel like giving my resignation letter today, but I know I can’t. Would love some advice.

  • lv2terp

    Wonderful post!! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and inspiring story! Truly touching, and wonderful message …. “And remember this—no matter what you do, be kind to others. That should be the fundamental base of all your actions.” – GREAT!!!

  • What a beautiful story! This gave me goose bumps. Serious ones.

    I lost my grandmothers very early growing up. So I used to walk around looking at old ladies that looked sweet and silently hoping one of them would “take me under their wing” and be my “adoptive” grandmother.

    That never happened, but I did get plenty of wonderful wisdom from people who cared for me in the same cosmic way this Mrs. Chan cared for you. And, many times, they didn’t even realize how much they helped me.

    Related to what she told you: she is so, so right. And just think about it! Money = value, in very simplistic terms. By being kind and always just trying to help other people, you are offering lots and lots of value. So money will eventually come around as the return for all of the value you put out into the world 🙂

  • Hi Lily, I’m glad the post brought it all back for you. I wish you all the best in pursuing your dreams in smiling, helping people and discovering miracles. Take care. 🙂

  • That is absolutely true, Laura. We never know whose life we might change for the better just by being kind. 🙂

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Take care. 🙂

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Julie. 🙂

  • Thank you Brandon. In a good way, I hope. Have a good one. 🙂

  • Thank you, Carla. I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

  • I’m glad the post reminded you of the good things in life. Keep your head up, you will find something you love soon. All the best. 🙂

  • Victoria, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to help but I would love share with you some advice. Feel free to send me an email via Facebook or through my site. All the best to you. 🙂

  • Erik Parmeter

    Thank you for sharing that story.

  • Alana T.

    Loved this story. Thank you so much for sharing! I hope you are in a great place in your life now!

  • mbaren

    The opening quote is a misattribution – sorry. According to The Churchill Centre “a search of over 2.5 million words by and about Churchill in The
    Churchill Centre’s research database fails to show that Churchill ever
    spoke or wrote those words.”

    https://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/speeches/quotations/quotes-falsely-attributed

    … though it does follow with noting a quote that’s also quite inspiring.

  • Glad you did Alana. I hope you are too and I wish you the best in everything you do. 🙂

  • It was an honour, Erik. I hope you liked it.

  • Beautiful story, Aqilah 🙂

  • Thanks Anna. I hope it was useful to you. 🙂

  • Love the post Aqilah. One of the most emotional and well-written posts I’ve read on Tiny Buddha!

  • This was beautiful! This was one of those moments when it seem the universe has sent you a message from above. I hope you are much happier today than you were back at that agency. I hope you know it was all worth it. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • wanxuan87

    Hi Aqilah, thanks for your post! Got to know you better through this post and hope you’re able to achieve abundance with your fitness passion!!

  • Raksheet Koradia

    Hi Aqilah,
    I can relate myself to your situation and this post gave me new direction.
    thanks for your post!

  • openyoursoul

    Incredible. Rivers on my face. This is so touchy.

    I just quit my job yesterday. I didn’t feel happy anymore doing it. I’ll move to UK. I’m prepared for the unknown. I’m prepared for the adventure.

    This post came like a new sunshine for me. It gave me a “remember-call” for what life it is. Surprises, surprises. We just have to pass or learn from all life tests.

    Kind regards!

  • Good luck with your move. I wish you the best. 🙂

  • I’m glad it brings a positive touch to your life, Raksheet. You’re most welcome. 🙂

  • You’re welcome Angela. The best to you too and VegeAsian. 🙂

  • Thank you for your kind words, Mariel. I appreciate it. You’re most welcome. 🙂

  • Thanks Ludvig. 🙂

  • Troy Swezey

    “If you’re doing anything in life that is making you unhappy, you should stop as soon as you can. You’re young. Set yourself free. Don’t waste time doing things you don’t enjoy doing.” Someone should make that a plaque or poster or something. So true words right?