Orly Wahba is an author, educator, entrepreneur, speaker and community activist passionate about inspiring and motivating people to be the best that they can be. Orly began her career in Kindness as a Middle School educator at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, NY, teaching the children to embrace unity, build their self-esteem, and use the power they have to influence the world for good. Yearning to make a larger impact with her philanthropic work Orly founded Life Vest Inside in 2011, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire, empower and educate people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness.
What does goodness mean to you?
For me, goodness is the vision to see goodness within others. It’s the courage to look deeper than the surface, to recognize that each and every person has something special and unique to contribute to this wonderful world. By embodying the inherent goodness that exists within ourselves, we can more readily share that goodness with those around us, helping them to undoubtedly discover it within themselves.
Goodness is the vision to see goodness within others.
Where do you find goodness?
Goodness is something I believe can be found in everyone, in everything, at every moment and in every circumstance. The question becomes are we willing to see it, to uncover it, to become aware of its presence. Our eye is a muscle. Just like any other muscle in our body it must be worked out, used often and cultivated to begin to see the good. The more we do so, the more goodness is reflected back at us. What we must ask ourselves each morning when we wake up and take a deep breath is how we will choose to see the world around us. Through the lens of goodness and kindness or do we prefer to remain blind to the signs of goodness that pop up as we head out on our day.
Our eye is a muscle. Just like any other muscle in our body it must be worked out, used often and cultivated to begin to see the good.
What do you enjoy doing?
The real questions is what don’t I enjoy doing! I am super passionate about everything I do. Whether it be writing, creating films, playing piano or drums, listening to music, playing sports, spending time with family, watching a movie, engaging people in conversation, speaking in schools or just getting out there and connecting with people!
I never felt like work was a job for me. Directly after college I was a middle school teacher for 7 amazing years - the most transformative of my life! From there, the next piece of the puzzle of my life was Life Vest Inside. Starting this organization from the ground up was scary, exciting but above all it was a dream come true. It’s been my dream since childhood to bring people together in a way like never before. The organization started with a short film I created for the organization, Kindness Boomerang, that went viral, but it didn’t stop there! I’ve had the opportunity to draw on all of the things I enjoy doing to infuse more meaning and creativity into the work I’m doing with the organization.
Currently, I am in the midst of planning a cross country tour with my new book, Kindness Boomerang. I’ll be traveling from the west coast to the east coast on a listening and sharing tour that will not only serve to continue spreading awareness about the power of kindness, but it will also bring to light ways in which I aim to increase kindness perception within the US over the course of the next ten years. I aim to use the tour as a means to spark conversation and dialogue with people of all backgrounds around the importance of kindness and how together we can make the US a kinder place to live. I hope to inspire, empower and equip those I meet along the journey with tools to make a change in their own life and within their community. I look forward to what's to come from this tour and perhaps a new book it may inspire.
The good I have the privilege to witness each day is awe inspiring; it fuels me forward in spite of the hardships and obstacles that undoubtedly come my way.
Who is someone who brings goodness into your life? What do they do / how do they do it?
Honestly, I see and draw goodness from each and every person I have the privilege to come into contact with. I always say that my job is falling in love with people more and more each day. I have the opportunity through my work with my non profit, Life Vest Inside, to connect with people from across the globe every day. People of various backgrounds, cultures, religions, races - but there exists one commonality - kindness. The good I have the privilege to witness each day is awe inspiring; it fuels me forward in spite of the hardships and obstacles that undoubtedly come my way.
However, the absolute greatest source of goodness for me comes from above - comes from God. By observing I’ve come to learn how to love, how to give and how infuse kindness and goodness to no end. Why? Because it’s unconditional and pure. I’ve learned to give through experiencing how much God has been given to me.
Regardless of how many things are going wrong in our lives there is always something going right. If you can’t find one - check your pulse!
What is something that you have seen/read/heard lately that has brought a smile to your face?
WOW! I can’t tell you the countless times a day I read and hear something that brings a smile to my face. An email, a text message, a handwritten letter from friends of the organization sharing how the org has changed their life, shifted their perspective, opened the gates to a new future. It’s impossible not to smile! Here’s just a small taste. Over the past month I’ve been traveling and speaking in various cities about the power of kindness as part of my book tour. I came home and received this email:
“Orly, I attended your event last night and wanted to pass along this story. When I left the Hotel, I got in my truck, started the engine, and realized I startled a homeless man who was apparently resting in front of me. As the motor warmed I watched him gather his belongings. I pondered giving him money and decided to roll down the window. I told him I was sorry I was taking his spot away and he said, no problem at all, thanks, and have a great night man! It was then I realized that he was SEEN. Prepared to give something monetary, he seemed more pleased somebody noticed him. How uncanny after hearing your presentation, any other night I would have simply driven away. The hour I spent listening to you last night will forever change the way I look at people. Thank you for the inspiration, you are a true modern day prophet of kindness, and the world needs you now more than ever.” ~Marc
How can you do anything but smile after reading messages like these!
Keep your eyes peeled, goodness is right in front of your nose so be sure to look up every so often and live in the moments that make life worth living.
What are some ways we can become aware of the goodness in our lives?
It begins from the moment you wake up in the morning. Try and incorporate an attitude of gratitude into your morning ritual. Regardless of how many things are going wrong in our lives there is always something going right. If you can’t find one - check your pulse! Every morning when you wake up and have air in your lungs that’s a sign that there is something YOU are meant to do today that no one else can. The moment we focus on the things we should be grateful for, the more reasons to be grateful will be sent our way. Keep your eyes peeled, goodness is right in front of your nose so be sure to look up every so often and live in the moments that make life worth living.
More on Orly & Life Vest Inside
Life Vest Inside gained international acclaim when Orly’s award-winning film Kindness Boomerang went viral. Orly has spoken at TED and has been featured on The Today Show, CBS, NBC, Bloomberg TV, Adweek, IBTimes, Parade Magazine and many more.
Orly was recently appointed as the CEO of Kindness USA, whose goal is to increase kindness perception within the US from 25% to 80% by the year 2027.
Ever since childhood, Orly Wahba had a deep passion to unite people in a way like never before; to truly change the world. To help people see beyond the labels and connect with the heart of one another; recognizing that each person is in fact a piece of the same puzzle. Like pieces of a puzzle we all may be different shapes and different colors, but each and every piece is the same size; no one being more or less important than the other.
“It is my belief that we are all unique, significant and special in our own way; each of us with something to contribute to this wonderful world that only we can give.” ~Orly Wahba
Most recently, Orly published her first book through Macmillan. Named after Orly’s viral hit film, Kindness Boomerang empowers you to bring positivity into your everyday life and the lives of those around you by providing tangible steps to change your outlook on life. With 365 pages, one for every day of the year, each contains an act of kindness, inspirational quote, and personal story on the power of paying it forward. This Lesson-a-Day book is broken down into 12 categories of kindness that repeat throughout the book. From kindness with yourself, kindness in the home, in the workplace, with strangers, in relationships, with nature, on the go, behind the scenes and more. The book is meant to create a moment of stillness for the reader, the time to reflect, and the time to connect to a part of themselves amidst the hectic nature of everyday life showing that it’s the simple acts of kindness that oftentimes make the biggest difference. As Orly is often quoted saying, “Kindness keeps the world afloat.”
“Writing this book wasn’t a task, it was a journey; a journey I took through my past and through, what I hope, will be my future. It’s only when we stop and hit the pause the button that we can see where we’ve come and decide where we hope to go.” ~Orly Wahba
Connect with Orly + Life Vest Inside:
Websites: www.lifevestinside.com, www.kindnessboomerang.com
Social Channels: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin
To learn about some ways you can get involved with Life Vest Inside, click here!