Be Your Best Self: Lessons From Harvey

09/06/2017 12:30 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2017
ABC News

It is said that crisis brings out the best in us, and that certainly was ― and is – true in the wake of the Hurricane Harvey disaster.

To mention but a few :

- Neighbors formed a human chain to get a pregnant woman in labor out of her apartment.

- The proud owner of a second-hand military truck that could plow through 9 feet of water who used it to rescue over 300 residents. He took some people off flooded streets to hospitals, others from churches where they’d sought refuge―only to be in more danger. All while his own home was threatened by flooding, and his job at a construction company was put on hold indefinitely because of Harvey.

- A cell-phone drying company’s CEO, knowing how vital our cellphones are to our lives, loaded up a truck with a generator, two drying machines, phone charging stations, bottled water and a willing employee, and drove all the way from Denver to Houston, where he dried out people’s phones for free, a service that ordinarily costs $69.99.

- Three Mexican bakers, finding themselves trapped in their Houston bakery for two days, baked hundreds of loaves of bread for Harvey victims.

These few examples barely touch the surface of the individual acts of valor and heroism by regular people, the incredible work of emergency and non-profit personnel, as well as corporate and other generous donations that have gone into, and will continue to go into, supporting those who’ve been devastated by Harvey.

At no time did any of these selfless, wonderfully compassionate people stop to ask: “Oh, wait a minute. Are you Christian? Muslim? Jewish? Gay? Lesbian? Straight? Transgender? Pro-Trump? Anti-Trump? African-American? Hispanic? Caucasian? Asian? Democrat? Republican? Pro NRA? Anti-NRA?” and on and on, before lending a helping hand to whoever was in need?

On the contrary, there’s nothing like a crisis of this magnitude to remind us that we’re all in this together. That at our core we are just people, all doing the best we can with the resources (mental, emotional, physical, even political!) we have at the time. That our individual survival and well-being matters, regardless of our beliefs, gender or the color of our skin. That we are, fundamentally, well-meaning, generous and courageous human beings.

There’s no need to wait for a crisis to show our true worth; to remember our common humanity. We can, if we so choose, demonstrate it in simple, everyday ways that will add immeasurably to our lives and those of others.

How? Smile at somebody, anybody, regardless of race, gender, color or creed—be they a co-worker, stranger, cashier, barista, bus driver, salesperson, whoever—smile! it’s a guaranteed feel-good to all concerned, costs nothing and takes no time at all. Open the door for someone, doesn’t matter who—young or old, brown, pink or purple-spotted. Compliment someone on something (appropriately, please!)―their smile, that cool saying on their t-shirt, how well they maneuvered into a parking space.

Yes, of course you can take it further: help someone across the street, put change in a parking meter that looks like it’s expiring, give up your place in line to someone who seems anxious or in a hurry. The many ways to lend a helping hand are limited only by your imagination.

Don’t wait for another Harvey. Be your best self today, every day, and enjoy the happiness it will bring you and others in this our wonderful, if often challenging, world.

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