The hardest thing to do when I’m feeling down is the one thing I know will help me feel better. It’s not exercise or sleep or eating healthier meals.

It’s kindness.

I know when I’m at my worst, I have to get my eyes off myself and put them squarely on the needs of others.

It works. Every time.

But it doesn’t just work for me. A Fargo woman says she was facing a difficult time when the perfect opportunity for kindness was born out of a short chat at a hospital coffee counter.

“For several years I have looked at the darling ‘little black dresses’ for baby girls at our hospital’s gift shop. They have ruffle bottoms and cute headbands. I have always wanted to buy one with the hopes of having a granddaughter, but after three grandsons, I realized it may never happen.

“My husband was hospitalized for a lengthy time over Christmas and New Year’s this past year. Many trips were made to see him. One day I stopped at the coffee shop in the hospital and was in line behind a young couple. The man ordered coffee for the two of them, adding ‘no caffeine for my wife’ which prompted the barista to ask her if she was expecting. The young wife started to cry and told her they had twin daughters in the NICU that they were leaving for the first time.

“Of course that gave me the chance to ask her about the twins, learning their names, how much they weighed and how early they were. I could only say how hard it must be to leave their little ones for the first time. I squeezed her arm and told her everything would be OK.

“They got their coffees and left. I got my coffee and went next door to the gift shop. Finally I could buy two of the little black dresses! The clerk helped me wrap the dresses and I wrote the twins’ names on the bag. I brought the bag to the NICU and left it with a nurse explaining I didn’t know the parents but I knew the names of the twins.

“A couple days later I was going up the elevator to visit my husband when a young woman squeezed my arm and said, ‘Thank you for the dresses.’ She told me how it gave them so much joy to hang the dresses on the girls’ bassinets.

“I was so caught off guard but I wish I could have told her how much joy it brought to me during her sad time as well as my own difficult time.

“My husband recovered fine and I hope the girls went home sooner than expected. It is true that there is joy in our sadness.”

When we take our eyes off our own pain long enough to see the pain of others, there is healing for all of us.

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. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at