Orly Wahba found herself feeling shy, lonely and ignored in high school, until one day she looked in the mirror and remembered a dream she’d had as a child to make a difference in the world. She literally changed her personality and life, and began doing everything she could to be the type of friend she’d wished she had in high school. Listen to hear Orly’s experiences touching the hearts of 7 years worth of middle school students, creating a viral video that has been watched by 26 million+ people, and what she’s doing today to continue to spread this boomerang of kindness.
Orly Wahba is an author, speaker, educator, entrepreneur and community activist who began her career in Brooklyn, NY, where she taught Middle School children to embrace unity, build self-esteem, and be an influence for good. She’s the founder of Life Vest Inside, a non-profit with a mission to empower people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness. LVI shot to national attention when her film, Kindness Boomerang, went viral, landing her a spot on TED. In her spare time Orly loves sports, music, movies, figure skating, and above all, spending time with her family.
Nuggets of Wisdom from Orly:
“Margarette Mead: Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
“Showing that each and every person makes a difference matters in a huge way. Everybody has something they can contribute.”
“When a person understands their value, they can now understand the value within each and every person.”
“To empower people to understand their value, that they matter, that they are significant. And even though they might be one in 7 billion people, the number that matters the most is that they are one. ”
“So often people do not understand their value. And if you think about it, if you do not understand your value, there is no way you could understand the value of another.”
“Every single second we have a choice, whether to act or to allow things to pass us by.”
“When we put something out there positive into the world, the impact and the effects are tremendous, that who we are makes a difference. It does not matter what our job title is but just who we are. That when you walk into the room, you impact people, you affect people. You touch people's lives just by being you. And that is so important to remember.”
“I believe that any child can learn, any child can succeed. It is just about being able to get through to them, empowering them enough to believe in themselves when they fail. Because a kid that can do well is going to do well, with or without that grade teacher.”
“I know that you are going to try and push me away. I am one person you are never going to push away.”
“If you think you cannot do it, you cannot. If you think you dare not, you do not. If you would like to win, and think you cannot, it almost like saying you would not. If you think you lose, you are lost. For out in this world, we find success begins with a fellow's will; it is all in the state of mind. Life's battles do not always go to the stronger or the faster man. For sooner or later, the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.”
“I am in the job of falling in love with people more and more each day. You cannot see the beauty in others if you do not stop and see the beauty in yourself. You just cannot. Kindness has to begin with you. If you do not love you, if you do not truly believe that you matter, that you make a difference, that you are not your job, or you are not how much you make, or you are not how many followers you have, if you are only going to look at yourself in those ways, if you do not truly love you, outside of those things, then how are you going to love other people?”
“Loving yourself and building that confidence is not like a video game. It is not like you finish all the levels and then you won. It is a constant battle. There are days where I feel really low on myself. And that is okay, and that is normal. It is not about always being positive, no one can always be positive. It is not real then. You are allowed to feel down. You have to take ownership of those feelings, but you have to be able to be able pick yourself back up afterwards.”
“It is very easy to compare ourselves with others, especially in today's world of digital media. When people measure themselves, and measure their value based on numbers (how many followers, how many likes, how many friends..), those things make no difference. It is a facade; it is so fake; what does it mean? It might for the moment make us feel good. But the only person that could really make you feel good about you is you. Happiness comes from you. It comes from inside. If your happiness is going to depend on a person or on a thing, then it is going to be something that will never become attainable because it is going to be something you are constantly chasing. But if it is happiness based on something that is within you, it is based inside of you, then it is a choice that you make every single day. It is not easy. But nothing that is worthwhile is necessarily going to be easy.”
“Our ability to stay afloat in a world that sometimes seems to be pulling us downward is inside of us. It is through the kindness that we give to others and through the kindness that others give to us that we keep each other afloat in this world because we cannot prevent the obstacles and the mishaps and curve balls from coming our way. They are going to come. But what we can do, what we have the power to do, what is in our ability to do is to throw somebody a life vest. A lifeline of kindness. That even though they are still surrounded by those troubles, they are still surrounded by those waters, that life vest is the difference between life and death. It gives them the hope to know that it is going to be okay. ”
“…it is not huge gestures, it is the simple things that make the difference. And what we find often is that when we give of ourselves, we actually receive so much more. In a sense, it is like blowing air in our own life vest to keep us strong. When we give, that is the air that we blow into our life vest, making our life vest bigger and stronger, so we can then help others. Because when a person is engaged in active giving or in active kindness, then we feel so good, and there is scientific evidence and proof behind this. We release endorphins. People are less stressed. They live a longer life.”
“Confidence comes from a place of strength. A person of confidence will make you feel like you matter. They will make you feel included. They will make you feel important. Arrogance comes from weakness. A person of arrogance will make you feel fearful, will make you feel like you are not good enough, will make you feel intimidated. That is the true test.”
“I had to learn to be okay with being alone and still loving myself.”
“Use positive energy to propel you forward. Negativity will only lead you down the road of negativity. The more you start looking for good, the more good you are going to see.”
Some of Orly‘s Favorite Things:
Personal habit: “Prayer is a very big thing for me. That has kept me the most grounded. It is my guiding star. Honestly, through all the hardships.”
“From Friday night to Saturday night. No phone. No television. No talking about work. No any sort of electric things. It is just being with my family. Being with myself. Connecting to and reflecting on the previous week as to what happened. How I have grown. To have a great time of connectivity and just hanging out with family and playing board games and stuff.”
Easy meal: “Fish and beans.”
Possession: “Magic Bullet”
Orly's Favorite Books: “The Garden of Emuna: A Practical Guide to Life by Shalom Arush” and “The Secret by Rhonda Byrne”
Best advice received: “Believe in myself and to keep pushing forward. And to know that everything happens for a reason.” – Dad
Orly's Happiness Formula:
1. Recognizing you matter. Self-Value component. Self-Love.
2. Pursuing your passion.
3. Opening yourself up to ways that you can offer a lending hand to others. Giving kindness. Engaging in kindness.
A Challenge from Orly:
“Catching Kindness cards. The purpose of these kindness cards, when you see somebody doing it–an act of kindness for someone else–you give somebody a card, and it says on it, ‘Tag you're it. You have been caught in the act. Now it is your turn to catch someone else in the act.' Exercise your eye muscle, get out there and spot kindness that is happening around you. Not that is happening to you. It is easy to see kindness happening to you, but the more you start becoming aware of kindness that is happening–good things that are happening in the world–a lot more goodness is going to be reflected back to you. Have at least one positive thing a day that you catch people doing for others.”
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Viral Video: Kindness Boomerang – “One Day”
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