1. Strangers on a train.
“One time when I was experiencing a panic attack on the subway, a woman quietly and gently approached me to ask if I was OK. When I told her I was panicking, she confided that she suffers the same thing and asked if I wanted to get off at the next stop and grab some water. She stayed with me until the panic subsided and offered some advice. Those tips have helped change my life."
2. Like a prayer.
“I was going through a difficult financial time a couple years ago and was ugly-crying in my car when two women knocked on my window to check on me. We spoke for a bit, and they consoled me and actually even prayed with me. Even though I'm not religious, it was really nice to know there are still kind people in the world who will take time out of their day to try to help a crying stranger.”
3. A heavy lunch.
“I went to college in the city, and one time, a club I was involved with was hosting an event for which I was placed in charge of picking up the food. I rather foolishly underestimated the size of our order, which left me in the West Village with three absurdly large boxes of miniature sandwiches needing to somehow make their way back to the Upper West Side, where my school was situated. Along the way, my arms ultimately gave out, and I just sort of stood at the subway terminal waiting for them to…regain strength, I guess? Anyway, two kind strangers saw me struggling and offered to help carry my boxes of sandwiches all the way down onto the subway platform and onto the train car for me. If it weren’t for them, no one would have gotten their miniature sandwiches that day.”
4. The terminal.
"I missed a late-night return flight once when I was studying abroad and was faced with the prospect of spending the night alone somewhere I wasn't comfortable. At the time, I felt so alone and so unsure of what to do that I found myself openly sobbing in the airport. Two women approached and offered to ask their cousin, who they were on their way to visit, if I could stay with them for the night. Ultimately, he said no, and I did spend the night alone, but the tenderness with which the women had approached me was just the right amount of maternal compassion I needed to calm down, pull myself together, and make it through the night."
5. Cloudy with a chance of friendship.
“During my freshman year of college, I happened to be having a truly awful day. I had been feeling isolated from my peers, and as I was walking to my 9 a.m. class, it began pouring. I was just feeling so defeated and was ready to head back to my dorm and call it a day when a stranger extended her umbrella over me and offered to walk me to class. Good people are good.”
6. The nice man in the sky.
“I'm scared of flying and have a very strong, negative reaction toward turbulence. One time when I was on a flight by myself, the man sitting next to me noticed my nervous demeanor and clenched fists, so he calmly looked at me and said, 'There is always turbulence in this area — don't worry,' and continued with some small talk to distract me. Now, whenever I'm on that flight and it flies through the 'turbulence area,' I think of that man, and it TRULY calms me down!”
7. An American in Japan.
"I was spending the day in this old-timey nature preserve during a summer I spent in Japan. I was at the midpoint of my stay there, and I was feeling a little homesick and slightly burnt out. I was probably looking a little down when a kind-looking Japanese man approached me and started speaking to me in English. After introducing ourselves, we had a brief, insightful conversation. He probably didn't know how much I needed those few minutes, but it's now a moment I look back on to remember the kindness of strangers."
8. New beginnings.
"After my girlfriend of six years broke up with me, I spent the next few weeks in a frantic haze trying to find a new apartment. When moving day came, I got extremely emotional and could barely hold it together. At one point during the process, as I slowly started to unravel and lose focus of the task at hand, my friend who was helping pulled me aside. He gently reassured me that I'd be fine while politely but forcefully pointing out that this was not the time to lose my head. Those words of encouragement helped snap me out of my funk long enough to finish moving out, and then he even helped me set everything back up in my new apartment. Thanks to him, that ended up being the first small bit of progress I made on a long road to recovery."
9. One wedding and a location change.
"I was moving apartments at the beginning of last September and also happened to have a really important wedding in another city around the same time. I realized I wasn't going to be back home until the exact date that I had to be out of my apartment, so I was kind of panicking. I was asking friends if they thought I should just skip the wedding, when one offered to pack up my apartment for me. I insisted it was way too much, but she insisted back. Two other friends agreed to help as well, and when I got back from the wedding, all of my stuff was packed neatly and ready to be taken to my new place. I seriously cried. It was the kindest thing any friend had ever done for me, and they in no way had to do it."
10. And this timeless tip.
“My therapist in college told me, ‘You want to do it, and you need to do it, so you will.’ Honestly changed my life.”
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