The Scoop: As a teacher, Orly Wahba spent years instilling kindness and self-worth in her middle school students, and then she founded a nonprofit called Life Vest Inside to empower more people to lead a life of kindness. As she said, “When I started Life Vest Inside, the world became my classroom.” Since 2010, Life Vest Inside has promoted positivity, organized global flash mobs, spread hopeful messages, and created a community around compassion and goodwill. If you want to bring more love into your life, you can learn from Life Vest Inside’s resources and open your heart to new experiences and ideas.
For as long as she can remember, Orly Wahba has been passionate about bringing people together. She said that, even as a 5-year-old, she felt she had something important to give to the world, but she didn’t know how to express it. She was a shy girl with big dreams — until her world went up in flames.
When she was 15, Orly’s home burned down, and she didn’t just lose her worldly possessions — she lost her inner light. Orly sank into a suicidal depression, and she stopped engaging with the world. She was absent from school for weeks, yet not one of her classmates came by to check on her.
One day, as she was getting ready for school, Orly looked in the mirror and realized she didn’t recognize herself anymore. She couldn’t see the 5-year-old who wanted to change the world. She had lost herself in a hopeless haze, and she didn’t want to continue down that road.
“I made a promise to myself,” she recalled. “I promised to be there for people in the way that no one was there for me and, more importantly, to see them in a way that no one had seen me.”
From that moment on, Orly began making an effort to contribute to her class and community. She raised her hand to share her thoughts. She mentored at-risk youth. She gave as much of herself as she could to others, and she found it made her feel stronger and happier.
“I was always a giver, but now it was coming from a place of strength,” she said. “When you give from abundance, it’s not a sacrifice. The more I gave, the more I began to heal.”
Orly discovered the power of kindness in her youth, and she has spent her life sharing that lesson in the classroom and beyond. In 2010, Orly retired from her career as a middle school teacher to start a nonprofit that would inspire acts of kindness throughout the world. Life Vest Inside is about showing others the value of kindness and motivating them to become the best possible version of themselves. It’s about telling someone they matter and making the world better by giving unconditional love and support to those in need.
Project Hope Exchange & Other Inspirational Materials
Couples who practice kindness often reap the benefits in their relationships. In fact, psychologists say that kindness is the most important predictor of marriage stability and satisfaction. A simple act of kindness can brighten someone’s day or bring a smile to someone’s face, and that can make a world of difference in how they view themselves, how they treat others, and how they handle conflict in their lives.
Orly experienced this firsthand in her teenage years, and she has made it her life’s mission to teach others how to transform themselves through kindness.
When it comes to the subject of kindness, Orly literally wrote the book. In 2011, she penned “Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts” to inspire people to be kind to one another every day. The idea for the book came from Orly’s award-winning film “Kindness Boomerang,” which saw over 100 million views and led to a TED talk about kindness she gave in 2013.
Orly talks passionately about how kindness can transform the world, and she encourages people to take small steps to help, support, and love others.
Project Hope Exchange is one of Life Vest Inside’s most impactful programs. It offers individuals a place where they can give and receive hope in the form of 30-second audio messages. People going through difficult times can listen to a hopeful recording from someone who has been through something similar. Visit the website or call the Hope Line at 1-855-975-HOPE (4673) to learn more.
“We’re giving hope to others,” Orly said. “Everyone faces adversity in life, and it helps to know you’re not alone.”
Orly told us that kindness is a superpower that everyone possesses. You don’t have to be the smartest, the funniest, the richest, or the prettiest person in the world to make a positive impact on the world — you just have to be kind. That in itself is enough.
By becoming more generous, compassionate, and optimistic, people can improve their personal relationships and cultivate a sense of fulfillment and happiness in their day-to-day lives.
“Kindness is the greatest tool we’ve found to empower people to discover their value,” Orly said. “When a person is doing something kind and seeing the impact it has, they come to recognize their true power.”
How Dance for Kindness Kicked Off a School Curriculum
Music has been influential in Orly’s life — she told us Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” is her personal theme song — and she has pioneered a program that uses music and dance to unite people of all creeds. Dance for Kindness is an annual flash mob performance held in over 50 countries around the world.
In celebration of World Kindness Day, over 55,000 people gather together to perform the same dance to the same song at the same time and raise money for their favorite charities. This show of solidarity is inspirational, and it empowers individuals as young as 10 and as old as 80 to discover their inner strength and beauty.
As a volunteer-run event, Dance for Kindness also creates leadership opportunities in local communities. Nearly 400 group leaders help organize this massive, kindness-focused spectacle. “It’s essentially leadership training,” Orly said. “We give people the skills and tools they can utilize when taking any idea and putting it into action.”
Many schools have taken an interest in the Dance for Kindness phenomenon, and Orly has created a kindness curriculum to help teachers, administrators, and students keep the positive energy flowing all year round. The program includes arts and humanities projects that align with common core principles. Life Vest Inside also offers schools the chance to win up to $1,500 in grants for participating in the curriculum.
As a life-long educator, Orly is passionate about providing educational materials that reinforce kindness and inspire a new generation of compassionate and self-confident citizens of the world.
“People can get involved in the simplest of ways,” Orly said. “If someone wants to learn what we’re about, they can connect with resources on our site.”
If you want to keep up with the fast-growing kindness movement, you can subscribe to the Daily Kind and Kindness Flash newsletters. These upbeat resources connect a community of over 42,000 people and offer inspirational quotes, positive affirmations, extraordinary real-life stories, and a continual reminder of the importance of being kind.
Making a Positive Impact on Individuals, Couples & Families
Life Vest Inside has started a dialogue about kindness, and its message has resonated with people from all walks of life. The nonprofit has given solace to people going through all kinds of personal challenges, and it has uplifted them with a message of hope and goodwill.
Many people have reached out to Orly to say that her events, resources, and overall message hit home and helped change their mindset. For some heartsick individuals, Life Vest Inside can be a literal life saver, giving them hope for the future and surrounding them with words of encouragement during times of turmoil, conflict, or self-doubt.
“Life Vest Inside has made my life so much happier,” said Montana Markland, who lives in Australia. “I’m pitching an idea to help run service groups around the community so I can inspire others to be kind too.”
Thanks to Life Vest Inside, Orly has made a difference in many people’s lives and started a ripple effect of kindness throughout the world. “You taught me to be kind and loving. You taught me how to find inner peace. You taught me to forgive people,” said Frederick Kunst of Denmark. “You’ve changed my world!”
“Orly is like a mother to a huge family,” said Paul G. in a testimonial. “It’s nice to know Orly’s light is out there, lighting the way away from darkness.”
Orly said such testimonials mean a lot to her because helping others is her main drive in life.
“When you’re positive, you draw positivity to you,” Orly explained. “We’re like magnets — what we think is what we draw into our lives. Once you start believing in yourself and loving others, everything changes.”
Life Vest Inside Teaches the World to Be Kinder Every Day
For Orly, kindness is more than an ideal — it’s a way of life. She has witnessed how an act of friendship and generosity can impact people, and she has become a lightning rod of kindness throughout the world.
Life Vest Inside organizes many heartfelt, community-driven projects that help people connect with one another. In her mission to educate and inspire, Orly has given motivational speeches, written books, created curriculum, and pioneered programs that encourage others to spread goodness everywhere they go.
Singles, couples, and families that focus on kindness can strengthen their relationships and build a healthy sense of self-esteem. Whatever challenges you’re facing in life, you can overcome them by listening to Orly’s words of wisdom and taking up the banner of kindness in your everyday life.
“The billboard of what we’re saying is ‘You matter,’” she said. “And that means other people matter, too.”