“Small Kindnesses”

Henry James famously said, “Three things in life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” Today’s poem, “Small Kindnesses” by Danusha Laméris, echoes this sentiment and is a reminder not to underestimate the positive impact quick and courteous exchanges can have. 

Small Kindnesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far   
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

Danusha Laméris

Click here to listen to Tracy K. Smith talk about “Small Kindnesses” on her podcast, The Slowdown

It feels like we need small kindness more than ever these days – especially when face-to-face interaction is limited and smiles are often hidden behind masks.

What small kindnesses have you recently received or bestowed? 

Wearing a mask and staying at home are kindnesses we can give one another.

One morning last week, I was excited to find a headband on my porch that my neighbor knitted for me along with a thoughtful note. It made my day!

After reading this poem, I’ve been trying to say “I like your shoes” or “those glasses look great on you!” instead of just thinking it. So far no one has objected.

What about you?


“Small Kindnesses” by Danusha Laméris, from Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection, 2019 Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes

Photo: Random Acts of Kindness Take Over Melrose, bostoncbslocal.com


  1. I keep re-reading this poem. Today, the “so far from tribe and fire” resonates. I had a unique chance last year to stay with “tribes” – Hmong tribe in Vietnam and Masai tribe in Kenya. The Hmongs and Masai think in terms of tribes and communities, not families and friends as we are used to. Everything they get is shared communally. Maybe this is a time to reach out and think in terms of “tribes” and sit by the fire together (aren’t we all one big tribe anyhow?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! That is one of the lines that gets me, too. It’s interesting how you can read a poem one day and a certain line strikes you and on a different day some other phrase will stand out. I think it works that way with entire poems, too – some days they click and other days not so much — as suggested in the “Smart Cookie” post.


  2. One of my favorites on this blog! Small Kindnesses go such a Long Way! You never know what you will get in return for knitting someone a headband or sewing them a face mask 😉 Surprise poem, blueberry muffins at the door, homemade Easter bread, bottle of rose or sweet text with a photo. Small kindnesses have been keeping my spirits high these times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Someone did an act of kindness for me this week! While not being able to work during this pandemic, I’ve decided to paint my house. I’m not good with matching colors. I asked my sister and she said “let me ask my friend Bonnie – she’s a colorist.” Well, Bonnie, you came to my rescue without realizing it. The color you picked for my front door is absolutely perfect! I appreciate you taking time to help me with this. A true act of kindness!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Didi. I’m so glad the color worked out for you. It was my pleasure. Patti sent me a photo of the house and it looks complete.


      1. Thanks Bonnie. I just don’t have the eye that you have. As I have said to Patti several times, that is not I color I would have ever picked, but I LOVE it.I hope you don’t mind, but when it comes time to paint my deck, would it be OK if I pick your brain again? Thanks again. Didi


  4. Thank you for your small kindnesses.   woody

    Eugene R. Widrick, Minister Emeritus, The First Religious Society in Carlisle, MA   Wallace Stevens:  “The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else.  The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe it willingly.  

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for these poems, this blog, and the few sentences of introduction you write to each one. I’m reading it and enjoying it. Good work. Mary

    Liked by 2 people

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