We all have a laundry list of things we’d much rather do than toil away to pay the rent. Unfortunately, rent ain’t cheap, and perks like food and heating aren’t included for free. But with Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s a good time to take stock of the bounty we have, and what we could potentially be doing for others.
That inclination inspired author and TV personality Leon Logothetis to hand in his notice, jump on a motorcycle and film “The Kindness Diaries,” which aired on Netflix and has just been picked up for another season in 2018. Logothetis spent years as a successful stockbroker in London only to find money didn’t bring him happiness. “On the outside, I pretty much had everything, in a materialistic sense,” he says, “but on the inside, I had not too much at all. I was very depressed, very disconnected, and really didn't have any sense of purpose. I felt, in many ways, I was wearing a mask.”
After seeing the film adaptation of “The Motorcycle Diaries,” about the travels of a young Che Guevara, Logothetis decided to quit his job and hit the road. “It was really a tipping point,” he shares, and “it pushed me over the edge … in a good way.”
His plan was to plot a road trip across America — living on $5 a day and relying on the kindness of strangers along the way. The trip was everything he could have hoped for, but however large the initial stack of fivers was, it eventually ran out. So he went on to work as a television producer in Hollywood. After a few years, he noticed himself falling back into the same habits as his broker days, and needed to break free once again.
“I was walking down the street near Hollywood Boulevard,” he remembers, “and I saw this homeless chap who had a sign that said ‘Kindness is the Best Medicine.’ There was something about that sign that just touched me in a profound way.”
He quit this job (again), bought a vintage yellow motorcycle with a passenger car, and set back out on the road — this time with the mission to help others. He made it a point that for every act of kindness received, he would return the favor by giving that unsuspecting stranger a life-changing gift. While in Pittsburgh, a homeless man helped Logothetis find shelter and food for the night; in exchange, Logothetis offered to send the man to culinary school and set him up in an apartment. “I call them ‘gifts,’ but really they’re opportunities,” he says. “I gave him an opportunity and it’s up to him what he does with that opportunity.”
After writing a book about his experiences, he was approached by Netflix with the idea of turning "The Kindness Diaries" into a show. The show was a hit, and Logothetis and his crew are preparing to start filming season 2 this January.
So what if you don’t have the necessary means to make the same radical change? According to him, the answer is simple: “Ultimately, what defines us is how we show up in the world, and how we choose to treat ourselves, and how we treat each other. Does that mean that work isn’t important? Of course not! But if all we do is work, and we don't help other people, then we’re living a hollow life. Go out and make as much money as you can. But at the same time, change as many lives as you can by simply being kind.”
What a perfect sentiment to write in your two-week notice!