Hi. I'm Sakina Groth, and I'm the founder of Else. There will be a lot more content coming about what the Else app actually does, but first, I'd like to share the story of how it all began.
Else was never meant to be an app or a business. In fact, my original motivation wasn't even about kindness - ironically, it was downright selfish:
Three years ago, I had it all. A great education, a great job, a great guy, and a 24-inch waist. My dog ran freely in the back yard of my sunny North Carolina home. We spent weekends sharing laughter and drinks on our neighbors’ front porches. Yet, I wasn’t happy.
I spent many a useless hour wandering through social media, zeroing in on those that seemed to have one-upped me: girls that were prettier; friends with more exhilarating social lives; the high school rival that got into a better business school than I did. And I let these things get to me despite my unusually keen awareness of two important truths: first, that the perfect lives others projected on social media probably weren’t so perfect; and second that this game of comparison wasn’t a winnable one. There would always be people both better looking and more successful than me, no matter what I did. Why couldn’t I just appreciate what I had?
I was a self-centered ingrate, and I knew it. So I drove to the local bookstore, and came home with a stack of self-help books on finding true contentment. I knew there was no magic potion for happiness, but if I could extract even a single kernel of wisdom from each of the books, I’d end up better off than I had started.
One of the authors—a happiness expert if you will—suggested this: do something nice for others, and it will make you feel happier. By this point, I’d had enough of this psychobabble. Write letters to people you haven’t spoken to in decades, make thank-you lists before bed each night, and now this? What was I, a five year old in Sunday school? How did this stuff make it to print? This last piece of advice seemed like such a baloney-infused, waste-of-time crock of shit I threw the book under my bed in frustration. I went to sleep that night thinking the money and time I had spent on those books had been desperate and an utter waste.
But when I awoke the next morning and saw the first rays of pale sunlight reflecting off the wooden floor, I thought, “What the hell. What do I have to lose?” My brother was an extended roommate at the time, and as I glanced around my kitchen, I felt minor annoyance at the mess he had left behind. OK. Instead of yelling at him about his mess first thing in the morning, I’m going to say something nice. No wait, I can do better than that. I can….surprise him with breakfast!
Unlike myself, my brother is not a morning person. He hated the cold and he hated his job. I heard him turn on the shower upstairs. Downstairs in the kitchen, I cracked open two eggs.
By the time he came rushing down, I had a warm breakfast wrap ready for him, all parceled up so he could take it to go (I knew he hadn’t factored in any time to eat). “It’s a breakfast burrito. Egg and sausage,” I said, handing him the fragrant package. His dark eyes lit up…while appearing confused at the same time. I rarely came out of my room to say two words to him in the mornings, much less hand him breakfast. What in the heck was going on? I told him I loved him and just wanted to do something nice. He took my word for it, thanking me with a loving sincerity I hadn’t heard in a long time.
I stood in the bay window of my kitchen as he climbed into his car. Seeing me, he waved, warm burrito in his lap. I watched his white sedan pull out of the driveway and disappear down the street. And I stood there in the kitchen beaming.