A blog about exploring civility in today's society.

Month: March, 2014

Showing Gratitude: The Science of Happiness

There’s a study that can measure your happiness. First, you take a short quiz to see how happy you are. Then, you’re asked to write a letter to someone who was really influential to your life. Next, you’re asked to call them and read the letter to them. After you call that person, you take the same test (worded differently with the questions in a different order).

What they learned: Happiness levels rose for those who read their letter aloud to that special person in their lives.

Here’s the video of the experiment:


Those who conducted the experiment say that “gratitude and appreciation actually change the heart and brain waves in your body to become more coherent.”

It’s awesome because:

“This technique has been shown to not only reduce stress in individuals, but activate a very special heart-brain connection which transforms jagged brain waves into smooth, calm waves of coherence.  When we are in coherence we are less stressed, less anxious and more happy.”

Those who conducted the experiment reference Almine. She is a world renowned mystic, teacher and author. They say that “by being in gratitude, the body and ones consciousness is elevated to new heights and able to experience a more elevated state of being.”

Basically the more you show gratitude the more you are willing to connect to others because you are happy and open. Sounds good to me, just sayin’.

“Almine suggests that gratitude helps us to heal injuries and trauma we may have endured which also helps others who have endured such experiences since we are all interconnected.  She speaks about the blessing of utilizing gratitude as something with which to propel one’s consciousness forward into new heights.  She even suggests that gratitude for things such as rape, loss of a loved one and seeming tragedy can help turn life around to a new perspective of health and enlightenment.  Reacting in the attitude of gratitude can change ones reality tremendously, so as to experience the positive rather than perpetuate sorrow and regret.”


So, take a moment to write that special person a letter and if possible.. call them and read it to them.

You’ll make their day, and yours!



20 Rules For Day To Day Civility

1. Don’t liter, ever (feel free to pick up trash though!).

2. Say “Please” and “Thank you” to whoever you’re talking to and wherever you go. The little things go a long way.

3. Hold the door open for people (behind you or in front of you, both will be pretty excited about it).

4. Don’t listen to music on your headphones obnoxiously loud when you’re on a crowded bus or any other setting where there are people in close quarters, not cool.

5. Be kind to strangers.

6. When you see someone drop something: pick it up, and run to give it to them (especially if it’s money, they’ll love you).

7. Give kindness to those who least deserve it (I think the saying goes, “kill ’em with kindness” but don’t take that literally, it’s just a saying (if you’ve ever worked in retail– you know the drill)).

8. Don’t be “that guy” or “that girl” many of us have been in situations where there’s one person in the room/restaurant/bar/whatever who is a complete ass to the waiter/waitress/bartender/cashier for no reason. Don’t be them. No one likes them.

9. Ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer. Small talk can be interesting (you don’t only have to talk about the weather!) you can learn a lot too.

10. Buy a homeless person(s) a meal(s) (c’mon, you can probably afford it).

“11. Realize that selflessness is one of the most predominantly wonderful qualities a person can have.”

12. Put money in someone’s parking meter (wait, that might be illegal?) …

13. Don’t talk on the phone while the cashier is ringing you up (they are a human and they deserve respect).

14. Start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally start one with.

15. Write little notes with your favorite inspiring quotes and leave them in a random book in the library.

16. Be curious about the people around you: ask them about their story or where they’re going (just don’t do it in a creepy stalker way).

17. Don’t talk on the phone in quiet, public settings (especially, the movie theater).

18. Smile at people when you walk by them don’t pretend to be on your phone or just not make eye contact, acknowledge them.

19. Don’t damage or destroy public property.

20. But, most importantly: if you’re ever in this situation, react without hesitation.

Thanks for reading & good luck!

Comment to let us know how it goes.

This was my list but there’s tons of other like it on fantastic websites like ThoughtCatalog and Buzzfeed.

McDonald’s boss vs Firefighters: Doing the right thing

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(Photo Credit:

This is Heather Levia. She’s 23. She is a single mother of twin girls in upstate New York. She is going back to school and paying for it all by herself. Doesn’t she sound awesome?

One day while she was at work a group of first responders came in to McDonald’s to refuel after putting out two house fires.

When they went to pay Levia refused their money. She asked her boss if the company could take care of the bill for the heroes–But, her boss refused. Levia decided to pay the $153 bill out of her own pocket (seriously, what an awesome person).

BUT, her bosses still didn’t like that.

So… they fired her. FIRED HER! (What?)…for paying for firefighters’ food. That is absurd. (Doesn’t her boss know they know save people? Guess not.)

“I was so caught off-guard by this. I’m very distraught that I would be fired over something like this. I was just trying to give back to the firefighters and they weren’t asking for much.”

Her boss basically fired her for no reason at all according to the nydailynews post:

“Her boss claims she had cursed at a superior, but Levia denies the allegation.”

“Tom Meyers, who owns the Olean McDonald’s, said he is an ‘ardent supporter’ of first responders, but he has refused to specify why Levia lost her job.”

The Olean Times Herald had a similar story:

“’I was told I was being fired for going against the wishes of McDonald’s as well has having my own opinion on not donating to the firefighters,’ she said in the Olean Times Herald article.”

The best part about this story is how many people are in support of this determined mother of two.

After she was fired the day after paying for the firefighters’ meal she went to Facebook to spread the word on what happened. And the result:

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(Photo Credit:

Not only did she receive support, she was even offered a few other jobs on the spot. You go Heather Levia!

You go society!

#winning seem appropriate?

You can read more about it on the nydailynews. Or this article from the Olean Times Herald.

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers

I had six tabs open while I aimlessly roamed the internet. Everyone does this, right? You start out on CNN’s homepage and two hours later you’ve watched 5 cat videos on youtube, 6 Vines, and read 10 of wikipedia’s random articles.


One click lead to another click, and another; and I happened upon Elitedaily and BAM! All of my attention went to a video titled,

“Photographer Puts Two Strangers Together For Intimate Photographs, And The Results Are Surprising.”

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(Photocredit: Richard Renaldi)

Richard Renaldi started this project in 2011. He took photos of Strangers Touching all across the country. The photographs are stunning me but what I found the most fascinating was the reactions of the strangers. One of the participants said, “I felt like I cared for her. I feel like it brought down a lot of barriers.” It was beautiful to watch these strangers walk away with a sense of closeness with another person they had never met.

“It was a good feeling.”
“It was nice to feel that comfort.”

After watching this video I had such a desire to be a part of something like this: to interact with complete strangers for a purpose, to learn from them, to better myself, to feel a connection.

And then I realized there was nothing stopping me from doing a project like this. I have a voice, I have a camera, I could do this. Now, it might not turn out quite as good as a professional photographer. But, what’s stopping me from trying.

One of the strangers who posed said,“We are probably missing so much about the people all around us.”

That is the idea I want to leave you with. You as an individual are part of something so immense. You have no idea what those around you have gone through, what they’re struggling with, what makes them happy. Why not ask their story? Why not learn something about them? Why not share with them and make a connection with a perfect stranger. Maybe that moment will touch their heart more than you’ll know.