Too often, we reflect on what we lack, what we desire, what we feel we deserve. I guess we all tend to think that way when times are tough, or we are under pressure, or it is simply “one of those days or weeks.” That is human nature. It is hard for many of us to turn off the negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. Yet that is what we must do.

When I traveled to Asia for my NYC designers, I saw opulence as well as the depths of poverty. I realized then how many people were less fortunate than me. When you work in the garment district and interface with famous designers, your hectic work pace prompts you to forget that there are less glamorous locations in NYC and the surrounding areas.

I remember one of my first days working in NYC. I was walking on the sidewalk and saw this “little old lady” carrying a bunch of boxes and bags. As there was a bus idling nearby, I merely thought that was her destination. Coming from a small town in New Hampshire, we always helped our neighbors. With this as my background, I stopped the “little old lady” and asked her if I might help her to the bus. Did I learn my lesson! Words I never heard a “lady” speak; phrases only heard in a “shot and beer” bar during a 1:00AM argument – this was her response to my offer of assistance.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I stood there in complete shock. “That didn’t just happen, did it?” I proceeded to the agency and my workday in bewilderment. As most homeless people in our cities tend to congregate in the same locale day after day, I did run into my “little old lady” often. But, by then, NYC had hardened my heart and I never asked her again if I could help her. Looking back, I should have never let that happen.

I’m writing this on Thanksgiving: a day of thanks that we try to share with friends and family. And if we are lucky enough to share this day with friends and family, we generally tend to “give thanks” and think positive. But what happens when Thanksgiving is over? Do we go back to thinking negative? Do we harden our hearts as I did years ago in NYC? Do we have thoughts that we deserve better in life? Do we replace a day of love and thanks with emotions and thoughts that we shouldn’t?

For some reason, the holidays are stressful to many. For those of us who have been blessed, we must not walk past that “little old lady” that comes into our life. If we encounter someone who is stressed or even depressed, we need to reach out and offer something as simple as a smile or a kind word, even a “hello”. Whether it is the poverty I witnessed in Asia or the “little old lady” in NYC, there are many in the world not as fortunate as us. If you are reading this, you have a computer, or a tablet or a “smart” phone—items many cannot afford.

So, this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for our blessings and commit ourselves to offer that smile or a simple “hello” to a stranger who may need it. As Lao Tzu wrote, and John F. Kennedy made famous: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Let’s all take that first step.