Smile And The World Smiles With You Cry And You Cry Alone Essay

Sometimes the most random everyday encounters force us to stop and rethink the truths and perceptions we have ingrained in our minds.  These encounters are educationally priceless.  They spawn moments of deep thought and self-reflection that challenge the status quo and help us evolve as sensible individuals.

Below you will find a selection of 99 tiny, thought-provoking life stories recently submitted to our sister site, Makes Me Think (MMT).  These are simple, powerful, real life stories written by the people who lived them.

  1. Today, it’s been ten years since my abusive ex-fiancé sold my favorite guitar. He sold it on the day I left him. When I went to claim my belongings, he was proud that he had sold it to a pawn shop. Luckily, I managed to track down the guy who bought it from the pawn shop. He was really sweet, and gave it back to me for free, on the condition that I accompany him on his front porch for an hour to play guitar with him. He grabbed a second guitar and we ended up sitting there on his porch for the rest of the afternoon playing music, talking, and smiling. He’s been my husband for nine years now. MMT
  2. Today would have been the 127th day in a row that I visited her at the hospital as she rested in a coma. But last night I had a dream that she died, and I woke up in tears this morning and couldn’t bring myself to drive to the hospital to see her lying there like that. So I stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling, and thinking of how I was going to have to learn to live without her for the rest of my life. And then my phone rang, and it was her. MMT
  3. Today, about an hour after I lost my wallet, a man showed up at my front door with it. Everything was intact including the $200 in cash. As I expressed my gratitude, he explained to me that he hopes doing the right thing pays off for him. “Oddly enough, I lost my wallet sometime this morning too,” he said. “I had about the same amount of cash in there that you have and all my cards and IDs.” Without thinking about it, I pulled out $100 and handed it to him. “Take this, I insist,” I said. “Just in case you don’t find your wallet, we’ll split the cash.” He gratefully accepted the money and left. This evening he knocked on my door again. “Here’s your $100 back,” he said. “A woman found my wallet and returned it and all my cash about an hour ago.” MMT
  4. Today, while I was browsing in a secondhand bookshop, I found a copy of a book that had been stolen from me when I was a kid. I opened it and saw, on the first page, in familiar hand writing, my own name. It had been a gift from my (now late) grandfather. Next to my name my grandfather wrote, “I hope you rediscover this book someday when you’re older, and it makes you think about the important things in life.” MMT
  5. Today, a week after I donated three bags of clothes to a local homeless shelter, I saw a homeless woman sitting on a park bench wearing a tye-dye shirt I made when I was a teenager. I walked by her and said, “I love your shirt!” She smiled and said, “Thank you! I really do too!” MMT
  6. Today at 7AM, I pulled over on my way to work to help a lady change a flat tire. At 4PM, she saved my life when she randomly saw me downtown and yanked me backward out of a crosswalk as a car ran the red light. MMT
  7. Today, it’s been five years since my mom was in a car accident that resulted in her losing all of her long-term memory from before the crash. When I was little, my mom and I used to quote a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ book as an inside joke. One of us would ask, “Have you ever seen a dragon fly?” And the other would reply, “I have, I have seen a dragon fly!” This evening I was sitting with her while we were watching TV and I randomly asked, “Have you ever seen a dragon fly?” And she responded with, “I have, I have seen a dragon fly!” We stared at each other for a prolonged moment, and then she jumped out of her seat and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I remember!” MMT
  8. Today, I have a disorder which frequently makes me faint for a few seconds, making it hard for me to be independent and hold down a steady job. I used to be really depressed about it, but my family and friends turned my illness into a game, seeing who could make me laugh the hardest when I returned to consciousness. They have also turned catching me into a sport. Believe it or not, I haven’t hit the floor once in the past two years. Someone has always been there to catch me. MMT
  9. Today was my first day back on the job after more than a year on disability leave due to a freak explosion in the plant that, among other injuries, left me legally deaf in both ears. When I walked into the plant this morning several of my colleagues signed me phrases like “Great to see you,” “Welcome back,” and “We missed you.” It turns out that nine of my colleagues got together and took a sign language course, just like I did, over the last several months. They did this so they could easily communicate with me when I returned. Their compassion MMT.
  10. Today, I am an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran. Upon arriving home three years ago from my final tour to Afghanistan I found out that my wife had been cheating on me and had spent/stole almost all of our money. I had nowhere to stay and no phone and was suffering from severe anxiety problems. One of my close friends from high school, Shawn, and his wife, seeing that I was in need of help, took me in and let me live with their family of five. They helped me deal with my divorce and get my life together. Since then, I’ve moved into my own place, opened a fairly successful diner, and my friend’s kids call my Uncle Jay when they see me. The way they adopted me into their family in my desperate time of need will always MMT.
  11. Today, I have been a counselor for foster care children for almost 15 years. This afternoon I ran into one of my previous foster children I hadn’t seen in over 5 years. About 10 years ago, on a day he was really upset and mad at life, I drew him a sketch of a superhero and wrote him a note on an index card about how he is a superhero and that superheroes always rise up and win in the end. I saw him today as I walked past the local fire station. He’s now a fire fighter. He recognized me as I walked by and ran up to me. We talked for about a half hour, and then before we parted ways he took his wallet out of his pocket and pulled out the superhero index card I made for him when he was a kid. MMT (Note: This was Marc’s true story.)
  12. Today, I have diabetes. Two years ago, after my mom passed away, I inherited her cat, Kita. At 3AM this morning Kita woke me up by sitting at the foot of the bed and meowing VERY loud over and over again. I had never heard her sound that way, so I sat up in bed to see what was wrong. As soon as I did, I realized I felt extremely lightheaded and weak. I grabbed my glucose meter and tested myself. My level was down to 53. Normal, according to my doctor, is between 70 and 120. My doctor told me that had Kita not awakened me, I may have never awakened at all. MMT
  13. Today, we live in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. My wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer, so my 14-year-old son decided that he wanted to raise money to help pay for some of her miscellaneous medical expenses. His idea was to go door to door around the neighborhood with battery operated hair clippers and let people shave a part of his head for a small donation of their choosing. He asked me whether a $100 goal would be too much. I told him not to get his hopes up. He came back home ten minutes ago with a totally bald head and $1,223. Two people gave him $100 bills. MMT
  14. Today, it’s been ten years since my best friend became ill and needed a kidney transplant. As I was a fitting donor, I chose to donate one of my healthy kidneys to her even after doctors said her chance of survival was only 30%, and that there would be inherent risks to my health as well. But here I am at 10AM, getting ready to drive to her wedding venue where, in just a few short hours, I will be her maid of honor as she marries the love of her life who she happened to meet at the hospital ten years ago. MMT
  15. Today, I was buying food at the grocery store for my family, but at the checkout counter my debit card came back declined for over-withdrawal. (I’ve been laid off from work for awhile now and am barely making ends meet.) As I quickly explained myself to the cashier and started putting back some of the food I had picked out, the man in line behind me stepped forward and paid for all my groceries. I thanked him, and he said, “Someone did the same thing for me several years ago. This is my opportunity to pay it forward. I hope you can do the same someday.” MMT
  16. Today, exactly 10 months after suffering from a severe stroke that nearly killed him, my dad got up from his wheelchair without any help for the first time, and slow danced with me during the father/daughter dance at my wedding. MMT
  17. Today, a big stray dog randomly followed me from the subway on my walk home. For about six blocks he followed just a few paces behind me. And just as this began to freak me out, a guy came out of nowhere, held a knife up to my face, and yelled, “Give me your purse!” Before I had a chance to react, the stray dog lunged at the man and bit his leg. He dropped the knife and fell to the ground as I ran away. I am now at home, safely, because of that dog. MMT
  18. Today my son, who I adopted eight months ago at the age of seven, called me ‘mom’ for the very first time. MMT
  19. Today, I’m a police officer stationed at the state court house. This afternoon the judge finalized a case in which a 3-year-old boy was officially adopted by his late mom’s best friend two years after the boy’s parents and grandparents died in a car accident. The boy has been living with his mom’s best friend ever since the accident, and he treats her as if she is his real mom. Once the adoption was approved, everyone in the courtroom was smiling. But before the judge had a chance to slam the gavel and dismiss everyone, the boy ran up to the judge and asked if he could do it. The judge laughed and nodded yes. So, smiling ear to ear, the boy sat on the judge’s lap, looked up at everyone in the courtroom, slammed the gavel, and finalized his own adoption. MMT
  20. Today, my 17 year old autistic brother, Kevin, played guitar and sang every single word, flawlessly, to the Lifehouse song ‘Hanging by a Moment’ for his girlfriend (who is also autistic) on their one year anniversary. His girlfriend’s smile lit up the room. Although he struggles with a severe speech impediment, he has been practicing for this every single day since they first started dating. MMT
  21. Today, at the local convenience store where I work an elderly man with a guide dog came in, went to the aisle with the greetings cards, picked up a card, held it up extremely close to his face, and struggled to read it. Just as I was about to walk over to help him, a big truck driver asked him if he needed assistance reading, and then proceeded to read him almost every single greeting card out loud until the elderly man smiled and said, “That’s perfect! My wife will love that one!” MMT
  22. Today, when I landed at J.F.K. for a business trip, I turned on my phone and was inundated with several voicemails and text messages from family and close friends back in Seattle. “Call home. Your mom had a severe stroke and is currently in intensive care,” read the first text message to pop-up on my phone. My boss was with me, told me she’d handle things herself, and insisted that I catch the next flight back home. As I stood in line at the ticket counter, talking to my brother about my mother’s condition, crying, and explaining that I was going to try to make a flight that leaves in 30 minutes, the twelve people in line in front of me overheard my conversation and let me skip to the front. Then after the Delta rep quickly issued me a ticket, she walked around the counter, handled me a box of tissues, and before I had a chance to react, gave me a big hug. I made my flight. And my mom is now in stable condition. MMT
  23. Today, a deaf-mute child I have been caring for 5 days a week for the last 4 years looked up at me this afternoon after I fed him his favorite lunch and spoke aloud to me for the first time. He said, “Thank you, Monica. I love you.” MMT
  24. Today, the man that saved my life 28 years ago when he singlehandedly fought off three other men who were trying to rape me, walks with a cane due to the leg injury he suffered by doing so. And he looked so proud today when he put down his cane and slowly walked our daughter down the aisle. MMT
  25. Today, outside the doctor’s office, approximately 15 minutes after we received the discouraging news about my incurable cancer, she got down on one knee and asked me to marry her. MMT
  26. Today, my dad is the best dad I could ask for. He’s a loving husband to my mom (always making her laugh), he’s been to every one of my soccer games since I was 5 (I’m 17 now), and he provides for our family as a construction foreman. This morning when I was searching through my dad’s toolbox for a pliers, I found a dirty folded up paper at the bottom. It was an old journal entry in my dad’s handwriting dated exactly one month before the day I was born. It reads, “I am eighteen years old, an alcoholic who is failing out of college, a past cutter, and a child abuse victim with a criminal record of auto theft. And next month, ‘teen father’ will be added to the list. But, I swear I will make things right for my little girl. I will be the dad I never had.” And I don’t know how he did it, but he did it. MMT
  27. Today, I have an elderly patient who is suffering from a severe case of Alzheimer’s. He can rarely remember his own name, and he often forgets where he is and what he said just a few minutes beforehand. But by the stretch of some miracle (perhaps the miracle of love), he remembers who his wife is every morning when she shows up to spend a few hours with him. He usually greets her by saying, “Hello my beautiful Kate.” MMT
  28. Today, I’m a teacher in a low income neighborhood in greater Detroit. Because their parents don’t have enough money, some of my students come to school without lunch, or without money for lunch. So I lend them a few dollars here and there to buy a school lunch when they are short on cash. I’ve been doing this for several years, and other teachers think I’m crazy. But of the few hundred dollars I’ve lent students over the years, I have received every single cent back. Sometimes it takes them a few weeks, but every one of my students has paid me back without me asking. MMT
  29. Today, when my wife showed up to do a 5K walk in support of her breast cancer, over 200 of her current and past students (she’s a high school English teacher) and several of her colleagues showed up, unexpectedly, wearing pink shirts with her photo and a caption that read, “We’re going to beat this together.” I’ve never seen my wife so overwhelmed with joy before in my life. MMT
  30. Today, my cat got out of my downtown condo and got lost. I was sad because I figured I’d never see her again. About 24 hours after I posted flyers on telephone poles in the city I received a call from a man who found my cat. It turned out the man was homeless and used 50 cents to call me from a payphone. He was insanely nice and even bought a can of food for my cat. I gave the man all the cash I had on me as a reward. MMT
  31. Today, my brother spends most of his free time at school hanging out with the football team – he’s actually been working out with the team and everything. My brother has a mild case of autism. About a year ago my mom was ready to pull my brother out of school and have him home schooled due to excessive teasing from peers. One of the popular football players, who had stood up for him in the past, heard about this, explained the situation to his teammates and friends, and stood by his side until the teasing stopped. Now, a year later, he’s just ‘one of the guys.’ MMT
  32. Today, almost 5 years after I stopped volunteering at the suicide prevention hotline, the new manager gave me a call. She said this afternoon they received a $25,000 anonymous donation to help fund the support line. Along with the donation they received an email that read, “Thank you Claire. You saved my life.” Apparently, I’m the only Claire who ever volunteered there. MMT
  33. Today, a homeless man whom I recognize from around the neighborhood came into my bakery and purchased a large birthday cake (I gave him a 40% discount). I curiously watched as he walked the cake across the street to another homeless man. The other man started laughing and then the two men hugged. MMT
  34. Today, I watched a teenage boy help an elderly woman with a cane onto the city bus I was riding. He was so careful with her, assisting her every step of the way. The woman had the biggest smile on her face. They both sat directly across from me, and just as I was about to compliment her on having a wonderful grandson, the boy looked at her and said, “My name is Chris. What’s your name, ma’am?” MMT
  35. Today, I stopped on the side of the road to help an elderly man who was struggling with changing a flat tire. It turns out he was the firefighter who pulled my mom and me out of our burning apartment when I was a kid. Even though I hadn’t seen him in 30 years, it only took me a few seconds to recognize him. We chatted about it for awhile, and then as soon as I had the spare tire secured to his car, we looked at each other, shook hands and said, “Thank you,” simultaneously. MMT
  36. Today, my grandmother and grandfather, who were both in their early 90’s and married for 72 years, both died of natural causes approximately one hour apart from each other. MMT
  37. Today, my father had a serious heart attack in the waiting room at the hospital as my wife was giving birth to our first child. My father was waiting to welcome his first grandchild into the world. The doctors say he likely would have died if he wasn’t already at the hospital with medical care a few seconds away. But based on the lucky circumstances, he’s expected to make a full recovery. MMT
  38. Today, I witnessed a bad car accident at an intersection. An older drunk male with no headlights ran a light and hit a teenager’s car. The drunk driver’s car caught fire. Then the teenager, covered in blood, struggled out of his car, jogged to the burning vehicle and pulled the drunk driver to safety just before the cab of the vehicle burst into flames. MMT
  39. Today, I texted my supervisor to tell him I wouldn’t be able to come into work today due to the fact that I’m in the emergency room with my dad after he had a heart attack. I got a response saying I had the wrong number. But then a few minutes later the person called me, told me her prayers are with me and my dad, and then told me a story about how her dad made a full recovery from a heart attack last year. We spoke for a half hour and she made me feel better. People like her who convey unrelenting compassion and goodwill MMT.
  40. Today, after my daughter’s funeral I was going through my phone deleting all the condolence messages. There were so many of them that I simply selected ‘delete all,’ but one message didn’t delete. It was the last message my daughter left me before she passed and it was marked as ‘new.’ Sometimes my voicemail forces me to listen to messages before I can delete them, so played it. She said, “Hey dad, I just wanted to let you know I’m okay and I’m home now.” MMT
  41. Today, I walked up to the door of my office (I’m a florist) at 7AM to find a uniformed Army soldier standing out front waiting. He was on his way to the airport to go overseas for a year. He said, “I usually bring home a bouquet of flowers for my wife every Friday and I don’t want to let her down when I’m away.” He then placed an order for 52 Friday afternoon deliveries of flowers to his wife’s office and asked me to schedule one for each week until he returns. I gave him a 50% discount because it made my day to see something so sweet. MMT
  42. Today, my high school boyfriend, who I thought I’d never see again, showed me the pictures of the two of us he kept in his Army helmet while he was overseas for the last 8 years. MMT
  43. Today, a 9-year-old patient of mine will be undergoing her 14th surgery in the past 2 years to combat a rare form of cancer. Even after all the surgeries I’ve never seen her frown. She’s still 100% sure she’ll survive. And I’m certain her attitude is the primary reason she has survived to this point. She still laughs and plays with her friends and family. She has intelligent goals for the future. A kid like her who can go through everything she’s been through and come out smiling MMT.
  44. Today, during a fire evacuation at school, I ran outside to find one of the thugs at our school, who is notorious for being a tough guy, holding my little sister’s hand (she’s a special needs student) and telling her, “You’re okay. You’re safe,” and calming her down as she slowly stopped crying. MMT
  45. Today, in the background over the phone, I heard my 7-year-old son ask my wife, “If daddy’s job is going so well, how come he’s never home here with us?” MMT
  46. Today, when the chief ordered the firefighters to evacuate the building due to “extremely hazardous conditions,” I began to panic even more. My daughter was still trapped inside. But one fire fighter didn’t listen to the orders. Instead he ran around to another apartment unit that borders the other side of our unit, went out onto the balcony, jumped over to our balcony, smashed through the sliding glass door with an axe, and brought my daughter out alive. MMT
  47. Today, I was one of the paramedics on the scene where a professional skydiving instructor died due to a parachute failure. As we loaded the man’s body into the back of the ambulance, I noticed his t-shirt. It said, “I died doing what I love.” MMT
  48. Today, six months after his passing, I flew from Austin, Texas to Melbourne, Australia to clean out my brother’s overseas condo and finalize its sale. As you might imagine, the entire experience was a sad one. But one thing that jumped out at me was my brother’s desk planner. Two weeks before he passed he crossed out a 9-day vacation on his calendar with a note saying, “Not enough time, maybe next month.” MMT
  49. Today, as my grandpa rested in his hospital bed, desperately fighting pancreatic cancer, he squeezed my hand tight and said, “Promise me, no matter how good or bad you have it, you will wake up every morning thankful for your life. Because every morning you wake up, someone somewhere else will be desperately fighting for theirs.” MMT
  50. Today, after an 11 month tour of duty in the Army, my husband has been home from Afghanistan for 9 days. During a heavy rain storm this morning at 4AM, following a loud crack of thunder, my husband jumped out of bed, half asleep, and onto the floor and screamed, “Get down! Get down!” MMT
  51. Today, I told my 18 year old grandson that nobody asked me to prom when I was in high school, so I didn’t attend. He showed up at my house this evening dressed in a tuxedo and took me as his date to his prom. MMT
  52. Today, I watched in horror through the kitchen window as my 2-year-old slipped and fell head first into the pool. But before I could get to her, our Labrador Retriever, Rex, jumped in after her, grabbed her by her shirt collar and pulled her to the shallow steps where she could stand. MMT
  53. Today I turned 10. Yes I was born on 9-11-2001. My mom worked in the World Trade Center but wasn’t at work that day because she was giving birth to me. MMT
  54. Today, after several kids teased a less fortunate girl (who lives in a poorer neighborhood) this morning for always wearing the same clothes, seven students in my class went home at lunch time, emptied their drawers and closets and brought this girl 16 pristine and beautiful outfits to wear. I found out about this after I asked her why she changed her clothes after lunch today. MMT
  55. Today, I was sitting on the steps of a church waiting for a bus when I saw an old Catholic nun being assisted up the steps by a young man wearing a Muslim turban. Once they were at the top, the nun turned to the young man and said, “I can see both of our gods raise beautiful children. Thank you.” The young man smiled and nodded. MMT
  56. Today, our high school basketball team has a senior player who uses a wheelchair. He lost both of his legs from the knee down in a car crash when he was a sophomore. He was one of the best basketball players on the team at the time, so the coach insisted that he stay on the team to help coach the other players. He’s now the assistant coach, but he’s also the designated free throw shooter for injured players. When a player gets injured during a foul and can’t immediately shoot the foul shots, he rolls out to the foul line and takes the shots for the injured player. I’ve never missed a home game, and I’ve never seen him miss a shot. MMT
  57. Today, I paid my landlord back in full. Ten months ago I lost my job and couldn’t cover my rent for two months. Instead of putting my son and I on the streets, my landlord said, “You’ve been a good tenant for ten years and I know times are tough. Take your time, find another job, and pay me back as soon as you can.” MMT
  58. Today at 5AM, I asked an elderly man in the city where the nearest train stop was. He walked me to it and then waited next to me for 15 minutes. When the train finally arrived, he smiled and said, “Be safe out there, miss.” and then walked away without boarding the train. MMT
  59. Today, I was in a taxi on my way to work in Chicago when my blood glucose level suddenly dropped and I passed out. The taxi driver used all the tricks of his trade to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible. Apparently, he cut through a small park and drove over a median to get me there before it was too late. I know this because after I woke up, my nurse told me that my taxi driver “saved my life” and “physically carried me into the emergency room waiting area,” followed by a police officer who was after him for the said traffic violations. But then, my nurse said, “After the taxi driver explained himself, the police officer shook his hand and left.” MMT
  60. Today, two Orphan children (a boy and a girl) I used to care for years ago when they were teenagers are now married, are the owners of a successful marketing firm, own the home across the street from me, and have two beautiful children. And although I never officially adopted them, their two children call me ‘Grandma.’ MMT
  61. Today, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on the afternoon of September 2nd 1996 about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my door and told me, “I’m pregnant.” She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had a reason to live. Today she’s my wife. We’ve been happily married for 14 years. And my daughter, who is almost 15 now, has two younger brothers. I re-read my suicide letter from time to time as a reminder to be thankful – I am thankful I got a second chance. MMT
  62. Today, and every day for the last two months since I returned to school with burn scars on my face after being hospitalized for nearly a month for injuries I sustained in a house fire, a red rose was taped to my locker when I got to school in the morning. I have no clue who is getting to school early and leaving me these roses. I’ve even arrived early myself a few times to try to figure it out, but each time the rose was already there. MMT
  63. Today, as we were eating lunch at a diner my boyfriend leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek every few minutes when someone walked by. When I noticed what he was doing, I asked why. He said, “I want them to know you’re my girl.” We’re both in our mid-70’s and lost our spouses to cancer about 10 years ago. Second chances at love MMT.
  64. Today, my sister, who has Down Syndrome, followed through with her plan to sing at the school talent show. She’s been practicing her song diligently every afternoon for the last month, but it still worried me. I was terrified by the thought of how the students in the audience would respond to her. I just felt like there was a strong chance they would be mean. But they weren’t. In fact, she was the only act that received a standing ovation the entire night. MMT
  65. Today, two years after I was told I would never walk again, I got up out of my wheelchair and took my first few unassisted steps into my wife’s arms. MMT
  66. Today, one of my regular customers, an elderly man who has been eating in our diner every morning for the better part of 5 years, left me $500 in cash for his $7 breakfast. With the money, he left a small note that said, “Thank you, Cheryl. Your smile and hospitable service over the years gave me something to look forward to every morning after my wife passed. I’m moving to Long Island this evening to live with my son and his family. May the rest of your life be magical.” MMT
  67. Today, I unbuckled my seatbelt (I’m passionate about wearing my seatbelt) for two seconds so I could reach a printed map and directions sitting on the other side of the passenger seat. Just as I leaned over to grab it, I hit a big bump in the road and then my windshield shattered as a steel pipe that was hanging on the work truck driving in front of me shot, like a missile, through my windshield and directly into the center of the driver’s seat. I slammed on the brakes and crawled out of the passenger door. The cops that arrived at the scene couldn’t believe it either – there was an 8 foot steel pipe embedded into the driver’s seat, and it didn’t touch me. MMT
  68. Today, one of the football players at our school (who stands about 6’5) broke out in tears of joy and exclaimed, “Dad!” as he ran into his father’s arms in the middle of our Algebra II class. His father just returned home from Afghanistan early and came over to the school to surprise his son. MMT
  69. Today, I am a corporate accountant for a privately held chain of restaurants in the mid west. Our company employs several hundred people. The economic downturn has had a noticeable effect on the number of customers eating in our restaurants, but not a single employee has been laid off. But what our employees don’t know is that the owner hasn’t written himself a paycheck in six straight months. MMT
  70. Today, I was sitting on a park bench eating a sandwich I made myself for lunch when an elderly couple pulled their car up under a nearby oak tree. They rolled down the windows and turned up some jazz music on the radio. Then the man got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door for the woman, took her hand and helped her out of her seat, guided her about ten feet away from the car, and they slow danced for the next half hour under the oak tree. MMT
  71. Today, I took a cab ride 16 blocks in Manhattan and when I got to my destination I realized I forgot my wallet at home. As I fumbled through my purse, trying to explain things to the cab driver and scrounge up enough cash, a man walked up behind me and handed me a $50 bill. “Thank you!” I said. “Let me have your address. I will pay you back.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out an old receipt and wrote down an address. “You can drop off my money here,” he said. This afternoon I went to the address he gave me and found myself standing in front of a soup kitchen that had a sign out front that said, “Accepting cash donations to feed the hungry.” I walked in and donated the $50. MMT
  72. Today, I’m a 3rd shift IT guy for a finance company in NYC. This evening I was updating our VPN server at 3AM when I noticed an employee was actively logged in. I got suspicious and I accessed their account on the backend to see what they were doing. They had just sent a suicide note in an email entitled “Thank you and goodbye.” I immediately looked up their home address in our corporate directory and called 911. This person’s son called me at 7AM, just before I got off my shift, to thank me and inform me that his mother is in stable condition in the hospital. MMT
  73. Today was the 10 year anniversary of my dad’s passing. When I was a kid he used to hum a short melody to me as I was going to sleep. When I was 18, as he rested in his hospital bed fighting cancer, the roles were reversed and I hummed the melody to him. I haven’t heard that melody since and almost completely forgot about it until last night. My fiancé and I were lying in bed. We were turned on our sides looking at each other when he started humming the melody to me. He said his mom used to hum it to him when he was a kid. MMT
  74. Today, after my dad ran out of options to come up with enough money to pay our mortgage he decided to sell his pristine 1969 Camaro that he restored and has babied for as long as I can remember. A wealthy local collector came to look at it this afternoon. When he realized how passionate my dad was about the car, he asked, “Why are you selling it?” My dad told him and then the collector handed my dad cash for the car and said, “Here’s $5k in cash. I have the rest in my trunk. I’ll be right back.” The collector walked out our front door, got in his car and drove away. MMT
  75. Today, my little brother’s internet start-up was purchased for $12,000,000. My brother is 17 years younger than me. Our parent’s passed away in a car accident while I was babysitting him 17 years ago. I was 18 at the time and he was 1. I took legal guardianship of him and worked two jobs for 16 years to make sure he had every opportunity in the world. He started his company at 18 just after he graduated high school. It took off like wildfire. This evening, he transferred $1,000,000 into my retirement savings account. MMT
  76. Today, a young teenage boy was in line in front of me at Target. He used a gift card to buy two video games. The cashier, an older woman probably in her late 60’s, rang him up and informed him that he had $12 remaining on his gift card. “Oh, wait then,” he said as he ran two isles over and grabbed a $10 bouquet of flowers. As the cashier added the flowers to his order the boy handed them to her and said, “These are for you.” The cashier could not wipe the smile off her face, even after he left. MMT
  77. Today, it’s been almost four months since my son’s seven-year-old dog, Grover, got lost at a crowded fair on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. We were on a family vacation visiting my husband’s parents. We searched for him everywhere, put up flyers all over the city – the whole nine yards. Nothing. My son was devastated. This afternoon, Grover showed up at our front door in Austin, Texas all by himself. MMT
  78. Today, a woman in my line at McDonald’s noticed the uniformed Marine in line behind her, and when she handed me $20 to pay for her meal, she said, “Keep the extra $12 and use it to pay for the Marine’s meal.” When the Marine got up to the counter and ordered his food, I informed him that it was already paid for by another customer. He stared at me for a second, then turned his head and glanced out the front window, handed me his cash anyway and said, “Okay, make it two #4 meals then.” On the way out of the restaurant he handed the second meal to a homeless man who was resting on the sidewalk. MMT
  79. Today, losing my infant son was the worst pain I have ever felt. But the phone call I just received from the doctor telling me my baby’s organs instantly saved two other baby’s lives MMT.
  80. Today, my father found my little sister alive, chained up in a barn. She was abducted near Mexico City almost 5 months ago. Authorities stopped actively searching for her a few weeks later. My mother and I laid her soul to rest. We even had a funeral for her last month. All of our family and friends attended the ceremony except my father. He swore she was still alive. He looked for her all day, every day since she disappeared. And she’s back home now because he never gave up. MMT
  81. Today, I walked my daughter down the aisle. Ten years ago I pulled a 14 year old boy out of his mom’s fire-engulfed SUV after a serious accident. Doctors initially said he would never walk again. My daughter came with me several times to visit him at the hospital. Then she started going on her own. Today, seeing him defy the odds and smile widely, standing on his own two feet at the altar as he placed a ring on my daughter’s finger MMT.
  82. Today, due to Alzheimer’s and dementia, my grandfather usually can’t remember who my grandmother is when he wakes up in the morning. It bothered my grandmother a year ago when it first happened, but now she’s fully supportive of his condition. In fact, she plays a game every day in which she tries to get my grandfather to ask her to re-marry him before dinnertime. She hasn’t failed yet. MMT
  83. Today, at 4PM I pulled over to help a man (who turned out to be a paramedic) push his car out of the road. After looking under the hood for a few minutes we both agreed his radiator needed to be replaced. He told me he was running late to work, so I used my AAA card to get him a free tow and ride to a repair shop next to the hospital. Exactly an hour later I called 911 when my son’s best friend fainted and stopped breathing after an asthma attack. The same paramedic, Jake, showed up at my house, performed CPR on my son’s friend until he was breathing again, and took him to the hospital. MMT
  84. Today, it’s been 10 years that our office janitor/maintenance man has been working at our company. Ever since he started, even as our small company grew from 12 people (when I started) to 118, he has given a small gift and card to every single one of his coworkers on their birthday. I actually just received my 10th gift and card from him last week. Today, for his birthday, the owner and CEO gave him a $25,000 bonus and threw him an after-work party. MMT
  85. “Today is your funeral,” my mother said to me over the phone as she cried hysterically from joy. I’ve been MIA overseas for the last few months after a mission I can’t speak about backfired. I was rescued this morning – the day of my funeral. MMT
  86. Today, I came across a Facebook page with 89 fans that’s dedicated to making fun of a kid at my school. It made me sick to my stomach. So I wrote this on the page’s wall: “Read your cruel words, and then get up and look in the mirror, all of you! And say, ‘I like torturing others! I am proud of myself!’” I just checked the Facebook page again, about 7 hours later. No one responded to my post. But the page now has 26 fans. MMT
  87. Today, I was sitting on the subway, exhausted, in a horrible mood. Lately I just haven’t been happy. I’ve been struggling with my weight, my job, and life in general. About 15 minutes into the subway ride, the elderly lady across from me got up, moved next to me, and said, “You’re beautiful. I’m not joking. I was thinking it, and I wanted you to know.” I smiled, thanked her and asked, “Do you usually complement strangers?” “When I was your age, a woman my age sat next to me on a train. Her compliments saved me from doing something stupid. And today, I’m returning the favor.” MMT
  88. Today, I operated on a little girl that was in a car accident. She desperately needed O- blood, which is a bit rare. We didn’t have any available, but her twin brother was at the hospital who had O- blood. I explained to him that it was a matter of life and death – that his sister needed his blood. He sat quietly for a moment, and then said goodbye to his parents. I didn’t think anything of it until after we took the blood we needed and he asked, “So when will I die?” He thought he was giving his life for hers. Thankfully, they’ll both be fine. MMT
  89. Today at the beach, I ran into my old boyfriend from high school who I haven’t seen in 8 years. We broke up because his dad was in the military and had to move to the east coast. They moved away during our junior year in high school, and we kept in touch for awhile, but eventually lost touch. I recognized him from a distance because he was wearing a tye-dye shirt we made together for a summer beach party when we were sophomores. The kicker: I was wearing my matching tye-dye shirt, which I haven’t worn in years. We hung out the entire day and have a date this evening. MMT
  90. Today, my son turned 7 and I turned 23. Yes, I had him on the day I turned 16. The choices I made when I was a teenager were foolish, and sometimes I get worried I’m bringing my son up wrong. But today I took him to the park to celebrate our birthdays. He played for hours with a girl who has burn scars that cover most of her face. When my son took a break to eat, he pointed to her and said, “She’s so pretty and cool!” Which left me thinking, “I must be doing something right as a mom.” MMT
  91. Today at 1AM, my grandma, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, got up, got into my dad’s car and drove off. We contacted the police. But before the police could find her, two college kids pulled into our driveway with my grandma. One was driving my dad’s car and the other was following in their car. They said they overheard her crying about being lost at an empty gas station 10 miles away. My grandma couldn’t remember our address, but gave the kids her first and last name. They looked her up online, found our address, and drove her home. MMT
  92. Today, a young woman and her toddler knocked on my door. The woman stared at me in silence for a second and then smiled and said, “I was just visiting the area and I couldn’t help but look-up your address. Your son carried me out of the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 before he went back inside to save others. I think about you and your family almost every single day.” MMT
  93. Today, I met the prettiest woman on an airplane. After some small talk, and under the assumption that I wouldn’t see her again after we made our connections in Atlanta, I told her how pretty I thought she was. She gave me the most sincere smile and said, “Nobody has said that to me in 10 years.” It turns out we’re both in our mid-30’s, never married, no kids, and we live about 5 miles away from each other in Dallas. We have a date set for next Saturday after we return home. MMT
  94. Today, the only reason I’m alive is because of my little brother. 7 years ago I swallowed a bottle of prescription pain killers. No more than 30 seconds later my brother called me from Iraq and told me how much he hates it there and that the only thing keeping him going is knowing that in a few months he’ll be back home hanging with his favorite person – me. I vomited up the pills and never told a soul. My brother and I are now roommates. MMT
  95. Today, because of my older brother, I’m a high school grad, I’m healthy and I’m alive. I’m 18 and my brother is 29. When we were 7 and 18, he got an apartment of his own on the good side of town and moved us out of the crack house our late drug addicted mother was living in. He worked 2 jobs to pay the bills and always made sure I was safe, fed and at school on time. He basically saved my life. MMT
  96. Today, as I was sleeping, I woke up to my daughter calling my name. I was sleeping in a sofa chair in her hospital room. I opened my eyes to her beautiful smile. My daughter has been in a coma for 98 days. MMT
  97. Today, through extensive charity work, we helped move a street family that has never lived in a house or slept on a clean bed into a house of their own. As he stared around his new bedroom in awe, the youngest boy in the family exclaimed, “I have a bed! My own bed! My very own bed!” MMT
  98. Today, at 8AM this morning, after four months of lifelessness in her hospital bed, we took my mom off life support. And her heart continued beating on its own. And she continued breathing on her own. Then this evening, when I squeezed her hand three times, she squeezed back three times. MMT
  99. Today, my 8-year-old son hugged me and said, “You are the best mom in the whole entire world!” I smiled and sarcastically replied, “How do you know that? You haven’t met every mom in the whole entire world.” My son squeezed me tighter and said, “Yes I have. You are my world.” MMT

If you enjoyed these short stories from Makes Me Think, I highly recommend you also read PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See.

Photo by: Mike Baird

Competitive Exams Essay: Laugh and The World Laugh with You; Cry and You Cry Alone

That man is a social animal is an oft-repeated phrase. We all know that man lives in groups, he can't live alone. Despite being physically weaker than many animals, he could survive and today rules the world just because of his superior brain power and because he lived not alone but a community. The basis of a community was sharing everything belonged to everyone and he used it according to his needs. However, as needs increased man became more concerned about himself. And today such is the irony that man, social animal that he has become thoroughly selfish. He knows how to take but has forgotten the art of giving.

Man lives to enjoy life. The first and fore-most necessity of his life is happiness. He wants to indulge in pleasure and joys. He tries to have it in his own ways even by sharing joys of others. It is very easy to share a smile. After all, he gains something by laughing with others.

He may forget his pains for the moment, his mood is freshened and his heart lightened. And why would man not take something that is being offered to him? In fact, it is desirable too that we make others part of our celebrations. What is a party without friends?

However, the deplorable part is that while man loves to borrow a smile, he is most hesitant to borrow someone's pains and worries. No one likes to become a share of other's miseries. It is said that sharing lightens troubles. But few would like to help others out. People have no time and little sympathy tor others as long as they have nothing to gain from them. So much so that people even try to take pleasure out of other's problems. Have we not seen people laughing at a blind man who has slipped on a banana peel or making fun of man with physical deformities? What does this all indicate-laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. No doubt the real test of friendship and relationship is in adversity. Wise men have rightly remarked, A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Can we forget the story of Lord Krishna & Sudama? Indeed, sharing pains is a Godly act. All religions are based upon the ideas of compassion, charity and love. Our epics tell us the tales of great men and women who gave their everything to help someone in need. Scriptures tell us to be kind to the weak. Gandhiji shared the burdens and deprivations of the oppressed and exploited classes. And he shines like a bright star in the galaxy of leaders.

In the olden days, the community feeling was stronger than it is today. People lived for a community, a village etc. In the times of troubles, the whole village used to sit together and decide. Marriage of a girl, which because of terrible social customs was considered a burden, used to be a community affair. But even then the people who tried to further their selfish ends at other's expense were not less. Today, such people appear to be in majority.

In fact, as life has grown materialistic, man has become more money minded. Relationships have taken a back seat. Today, one can even trust one's relatives that they would help in adversity. If they come to mourn a crash the real purpose remains sharing deceased's property and wealth. However, if he has none, they would think twice before going. However, if there is a celebration, a marriage or a party, they will drop in even uninvited. In fact, today bridegroom's party's size has become so large and unwieldy that it becomes a headache for the bride's family.

If there is anyone one can safely rely on at the time of adversity, it KB the God one's own parents. Come what may, parents are always on the side of their children. They may not share their children joys if not called upon to do so but will be the first ones on their sides in trouble. God is of course the last resort. Man might not be trusted but faith in Almighty does give strength to one to face sorrows and smile even in the face of disappointments.

It is a well tested diction that everything bends before success but an unsuccessful man is blamed for everything. He can do no right. No one will sympathize with him. However, if we want world to change for better, we should learn to give our joys to others and share sorrows of others. We should remember that joys multiply and sorrows divide if shared. Even a word or two of comfort can enlighten somebody's life.

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