“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart

A single act of kindness can be as small as a smile – the kind the lights up the window to your soul, deep felt inside you. I read once that a person had been on their way to commit suicide because they felt that life wasn’t worth living any longer. On the way someone smiled at them like that and they felt it deep within their soul and went back home. The person who smiled never knew that they saved a life that day, but they did.

If we look around our world we see so many problems, with people struggling to put food on the table, make the rent/mortgage payment, worried about losing their job and their families, and the stress seems unbearable. The problems are so large, and they are so intertwined that we can’t even see where we could start to help, or we feel that the help is too small and wouldn’t make any difference. We worry that we might start something that has unintended consequences, and so we “cross the street” so as not to see it, and continue with our lives doing nothing.

But look that what Amelia says – a single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and those roots spring up to make new trees. You may not know what to do, but any act of kindness can be life saving. That person who received the smile may have went back home to a spouse and children, who would have been left without the bread winner. That smile could have caused him to try one more time to get hired on at the local store, and this time they said yes. That smile could have caused him to get counseling and save his marriage. That smile could have made it possible for his daughter to go to college, and become the scientist that created the cure for a disease that kills thousands.

Her quote is like the butterfly that flaps his wings in Brazil and changes the climate in America. You just don’t see the roots that spring out from one act of kindness and the tress that grow from that. What I do know is that most of the wonderful inventions, creations and programs that help all of us, come from someone who experienced hardship in their life and stood up and said “no more”. No one should have to experience this, and so they stand up and make the difference.

Your “smile” whatever that is, could be the one thing that shifts the balance and it can make a difference. So instead of “crossing the street” today, see if there is one thing that you can do, because that one thing will spread roots across the world and shift the balance.

So like Johnny Appleseed, plant some trees and don’t worry about how small the seed is. There are still apple trees across America that were planted by Johnny, and he didn’t need to look back to see the fruits of his labor, because he believed that God would make each and every seed sprout and spread roots and grow strong.

Sheryl Silbaugh

I am married with 4 grown children who are all married and currently have 14 grandchildren and two great granddaughters. I work fulltime as a Director at Bank of America and I am the founder of, which is a website and Facebook page dedicated to personal transformation and growth. We all have life's lemons show up in our life, this website helps us to make them into lemonade.