How is it that things can look so drastically different based on our ever-changing outlook?

Like the little park bench that’s tucked along a pebble path and surrounded by colorful blossoms. It looks so quaint and inviting, until that becomes the place where your boyfriend chooses to dump you.

Then it looks rusty and worn out and covered in bird poop.

Some things that are beautiful become less captivating, but as Diana Anderson of West Fargo found out, it also works in reverse. A nice evening can become magical when kindness enters the room.

Here’s her story:

“On New Year’s Eve we went to dinner with my husband’s family. We had not all been together since the passing of his dad, Wally, four years ago. We were a group of 12 and we had a wonderful meal at Granite City in Fargo. After many laughs, great food and drinks, it was time to move the party to our house.

Our attentive waitress informed us that someone had paid our bill. We all were stunned and thought it was just a silly prank at first. We looked at each other and then around the restaurant to see if this was in fact really happening.

The restaurant was still abuzz with people laughing, eating and enjoying the night. Patrons were entering the restaurant while others were leaving. Employees were bringing food and drinks to tables. The scene was the same as it had been when we entered the restaurant just an hour earlier and yet it was completely different. It is amazing how it changed the mood of the rest of the night, and how all of a sudden, we could see the kindness and smiles radiating around us.

The 12 of us pooled every bit of cash we had and gave it to the server. Our waitress was so surprised and grateful. I’m not sure how much we gave her, but she deserved every penny she made.

Each individual family at our table, all 5 of them, committed to paying for another family’s meal in the future. I’m not sure if the rest of them have followed through yet, but the next night my husband and I took our kids to Red Lobster and had so much fun choosing another family to bless.”

Do you need to change the atmosphere around you? Perhaps you want to consider bringing kindness into play.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at

Beginning next week, Nicole’s column will appear in Friday’s Fargo Forum newspaper instead of Saturday.