We’re used to thinking of kindness in a global way.  We think that in order to change the world we need to start a movement, blow people’s minds, do something epic.

That’s why sometimes it’s good to be reminded how just being every day people can mean changing the world.  All we have to do is be ready for the opportunity.

Here are 10 photos of “ordinary” people doing extraordinary kindnesses, to remind us that we all have the potential to do so much good.

1. Handcuffs Of Life

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Last Wednesday, a woman in Beijing was about to jump to her death, convinced that her life wasn’t worth living.  A police officer had a different idea.  And he risked his life to prove it.  With nothing else to help save the woman, he attached himself (and thus his life) to her by putting his handcuffs on her wrist and his.  If she jumped, he would be a goner.  But she didn’t.  All thanks to his selfless act.

2. Bikers Against Child Abuse

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It can be so easy to judge people when we only look at them from the outside, can’t it?  Here’s an image that should shatter that way of looking at people.  Above is an image from a recent meeting of Bikers Against Child Abuse, a group of bikers who organize monthly meetings with abused children to provide a sense of comfort and protection.  Read more about these heroes here.

3. Saving A Lamb In Peril

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In Norway, recently, two guys spotted a lamb drowning in the ocean.  One jumped in to save it, and from that rescue, this amazing image was taken.  See more pictures in this awesome imgur collection.

4. Protesting With Love

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There are some people in the world that want us to know how bad we all are.  Then there are some that just want to give free hugs.  Which do you think is braver?

5. The Music Of Love

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This photo was featured in National Geographic’s 2010 photography contest.  Such a beautiful picture, but it will become even more beautiful after this description provided by the photographer: “This picture was taken in Tenganan Village, Bali (2010). Tenganan is the most famous Bali Aga (original Balinese) village and is located close to Candi Dasa in East Bali. A man was playing bamboo music to entertain a disabled child which is not his son, but he loves this child likes he loves his own son.”

6. Eric The “Sandwich Man”

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This man, simply identified as Eric, is known for handing out sandwiches in New York City’s subway.  Run completely through his own funding and effort, with a bit of help from donations on the subway, Eric is just another example of how ordinary people can do so much if they only realize their power.

7. A Prayer For The Dead

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An elderly man was found dead in a train station in China recently.  While onlookers stood aside, a monk came over peacefully and prayed for his soul.

8. Haircuts For Hugs

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In Hartford, CT, there is a barber known as Anthony “Joe the Barber” Cymerys.  Cymerys spends every Wednesday giving out free haircuts to the homeless of Hartford while his friends hand out free food.  When asked why he does this he responded, “It’s all about inspiring people to do things for the least of our brothers.”

9. Shoes For The Needy

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On a cold day in New York City, a policeman saw a man who was being mocked by bystanders.  He noticed the man wasn’t wearing any shoes despite the cold November weather.  He immediately ran to buy some boots and offered them to the man.  A tourist snapped the picture above and it immediately became an internet sensation.  How could it not?  In a city known more for conflicts with policemen, it’s nice to remember that humanity exists everywhere.

10. Losing Isn’t Everything

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In a high school track race, a 17-year old junior named Meghan Vogel was in last place.  Ahead of her, she noticed another student injured, hardly able to run anymore.  Instead of running past to avoid her last place finish, she picked up the student and guided her to the finish line, allowing the competitor to finish ahead of her.  The image since went beyond viral, reminding us all, again, of how much we’re capable of if we just open our eyes.

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