I was on the clock. I had five minutes to make it through the Atrium to make it to class on time. It was the Friday afternoon of a taxing week. Naturally, I looked and felt like death was upon me. The only thing that kept me going was the sun shining and the thought of a weekend within reach.
I squirmed while I waited in the checkout line. I couldn’t help but be grateful this week was almost over so much had gone wrong and so little had gone right. I grew impatient and frustrated as I reminisced.
My life was an anxiety-sandwich in which irrational thoughts and copious amounts stress were the main ingredients, and piled high. I was brought back to reality by an unfamiliar voice and a gentle touch on the shoulder that said, excuse me young lady.
I turned to see an older man in line behind me with generous, concerned eyes. I was expecting him to ask where he could find a spoon or a napkin, but it turned out I was wrong. Has anyone done something nice for you today? he said.
I was caught off guard as thoughts scrambled in my head. I had never been asked something like that before. I also had no idea where he was going with this bit of information.
I finally managed to get a grip on myself as I hesitantly answered in a nervous driven high-pitched tone, No, I donÕt think so.
What happened next was unbelievable. He bought me lunch. This manÑthis genuine, kind, random manÑturned my week around in a matter of 30 seconds. I insisted on paying him back but he insisted on paying it forward.
Now that I did something kind for you, you need to do something kind for someone else. Keep it going, he said.
This one, small act of kindness had such an impact on my day and my outlook. My negative thoughts instantly vanished and I suddenly became aware of everything I was thankful for. I was happier than I had been in a very long time. This is precisely the reminder I needed about how lucky I am to go to school in such a great city.
Burlington, Vermont is easily the best place to live, but it is also the best place to go to college. In 2011, a Gallup Poll declared Burlington among the Òhappiest small cities in the country,Ó WPTZ reported.
Small acts of kindness, like the one I witnessed, make it very easy to see the beauty of Burlington. On top of all the good samaritans that flocculate throughout the city, the culture of Burlington has a big impact on the attitudes of its citizens.
BurlingtonÕs culture is based on a healthy, athletic lifestyle. The year round activity, whether it be skiing, biking, sailing or jogging, produces endorphins and other mood enhancing chemicals in our brains to make us gleam.
Additionally, Burlington encourages locally-grown food. The intake of the locally grown vegetation supports a healthy balanced diet, which has many beneficial factors such as increased focus and self-esteem. But the most important thing about VermontÕs stress on Òbuying localÓ is the support system we create for ourselves.
VermontÕs sustainable mindset not only teaches its citizens to support its local economy, but also to stand by their neighbors. It is evident that this tactic works. Burlington is accepting of new ideas and styles while judgments are rare.
A community like Burlington, where each member supports, cares and accepts one another, is my view of an ideal society.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones who call this place home.