A Little Happier: Do You Want to Take My Taxi?

A Little Happier: An encounter with a stranger, about a taxi, has haunted me. It reminded me that we never may know the true consequences of our actions, big or small, for good or for ill.

Have you ever had a moment like this? When one tiny gesture — from a stranger — made a huge difference?

If you’d like to read Better Than Before, my book about habit change, you can learn more about it here.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

Happier listening!

  • Gillian

    I have been on the receiving end of such a momentary kindness, although the consequences were not nearly as important as those in your case appeared to be. I might well have written about this here before.

    Many years ago, on a Saturday before Christmas, I popped into a small supermarket to pick up just a few things. The checkup line was moving very slowly and I was in an increasingly grumpy mood. I had intended this to be just a very quick stop. There was a man in the lineup in front of me, probably in his late 60s or early 70s. He turned to me and made a casual, pleasant remark. Nothing important, just idle chat really, but with a smile and a pleasant tone. I responded in a similar way. My mood changed immediately from miserable grumpiness to cheerfulness. All as a result of a few pleasantries. I have never forgotten that brief moment; I’ve often wished I had followed the man and thanked him for his civility and pleasantness. It can sometimes take so little to lighten the mood of those around us and, as a result, of those around them. It can ripple out in circles.

    Merry, cheerful, Christmas everyone.

    • Cindy May

      I had a moment similar to that a few days ago when one of my company’s clients called me back (after having spoken to me approx. 10 min earlier) to wish me a Merry Christmas and apologized for not saying it when he called previously. It was a tiny gesture, but one that really flattered me and made me feel good for the rest of the morning.

  • Janet

    This moved me to tears. I changed my shift this Friday with a coworker, a young woman with a two year old, so that she can have an easier time making Christmas Eve with her family. I don’t celebrate so it doesn’t matter to me. Her hug and smile were the greatest reward for something so easy to do.

    • gretchenrubin

      It’s great to hear that the episode struck a chord with you.

  • Kelly Kibble Griffith

    When my first born was about 6 mths old, I had to be away on a business trip on my birthday, and she had a somewhat important doctors visit while I was away. So, I wasn’t thrilled to be traveling. A coworker and I had dinner at the hotel restaurant, and she mentioned to the waiter that it was my birthday. He brought me a complimentary “to go” dessert, which was very nice, and then I accidentally left it behind when we left the restaurant. When I got back to my room a short while later, it was all bagged up and sitting outside my door, with a little note explaining that he had the hotel send it to my room since I’d forgotten it. (It wasn’t creepy like it might be sounding it writing.) Anyway it just seemed so unexpectedly thoughtful that this college kid went out of his way to make sure I had birthday cake – that kindness brightened the whole trip.

    • gretchenrubin

      Lovely!

  • Marie-Claire

    I call these ‘divine appointments,’ when you’re suddenly prompted to be someone’s answer to their prayer. It literally comes out of the blue and you have a deep knowing and ease and flow and joy to act a certain way, small or great, that blesses someone.

    • Lisa Ramish

      I love this.

  • joellis

    When my son was almost 3, we went to a mall to get a birthday present for his older brother. While I was looking at a shirt size, in a flash, my son was nowhere to be found. Frantic I left the store, pushing the empty stroller, looking all around. A lady noticed my distress, stopped, and asked if she could help. This angel and I looked in different directions to cover more territory. About 10 minutes later, she found my son in the toy store, happily trying out every toy he could get his hands on. I never knew her name, but I will never forget her kindness.

  • Peggy Herman

    Thank you for sharing this heartwarming story. It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago. I was going to see a matinee show in NYC with my elderly father. It was a hot summer day and there was a long line to get into the theater. My father began to feel light-headed. I quickly escorted my father into a busy women’s shoe store where it was cool and asked the clerk if my father could sit down for a bit. To save my father’s pride, I didn’t want to say much, but I was able to make genuine eye contact with the clerk and I got an immediate sense that he had compassion for my father. I will always remember the kindness.