I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies. One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, 'I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together.' After hurriedly completing ... Read Full Story >>
One winter semester during college in upstate New York., I took an 8 AM history class to fulfill a requirement. It was hard to get up for that class, but about 15 of us met 3 times a week to brave the cold winds and trudge to that lecture in a nondescript classroom. The professor for the class was an odd fellow. He had flaming red hair, usually looking slept on, and wore galoshes with one pantleg in and one out. He would creep shyly into the room wearing his hooded winter coat , once not even removing the hood during the lecture. He was terribly ill at ease with the class and clutched the lecturn barely looking up at all through his gold rimmed glasses at his students. I felt that I needed to do something to stem the boredom that woud ensue in his lecture, so I created a little game for myself. ... Read Full Story >>
[ Note: This story below was written by Nancy Gavin and originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman's Day magazine. You can watch a video of this story here.] It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it--overspending... the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else. Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an ... Read Full Story >>
“Everyone says the flowers smell good but I don’t smell anything. Nothing. Do you smell them?” she asks, in her heavily accented voice. After walking around a busy street looking to do a random act of kindness, I had stumbled into this flower shop. Even though my mind was busy devising possible scenarios, I had a gut feeling that something was going to present itself. A little startled by the flower lady’s question, I tell her that “the flowers smell ah-mazing and perhaps you should take a break once in a while so you can enjoy them too.” Before I realize, I find myself in the midst of a conversation about her life -- she got laid off from United Airlines a few years back, took the unemployment money and traveled the world for a year. Then, she ran out of money and came back to work at the ... Read Full Story >>
I am a resource officer at a school district. Last year I met one little boy in particular to whom my heart just went out to. He would talk to me every single day, and always seemed to have a smile on his face. He has a problem with stuttering extremely bad when he tries to talk. It's really hard sometimes to understand what he is saying, although he loves to tell you big tales! Well, this morning, I was talking to a couple teachers who were running the school store. He stopped by and said hello to all of us. They told me after he left that he stops every day they are there and asks them if they will be there the next day. But of course, he never has the money to be able to buy anything. I decided I would get him a little something just ... Read Full Story >>
As she was waiting for her clothes to dry, an elderly woman sat silently on the bench and mumbled to herself. At first I thought that she may have a mental illness as she was shabbily dressed and simply sat mumbling. Her soft yet repetitve words seemed to have annoyed everyone and people sitting nearby moved away from her as many do homeless people. Some had even asked the woman on duty if she could be removed. I sat on the bench beside her and glanced over, prepared to smile...but she did not look my way. So we sat together waiting for clothes to dry and we said not a word to each other. Yet she continued her "mumbling" that actually seemed to lull me into a quiet and peaceful place. When her clothes stopped she simply remained seated, in no rush to get them folded before they wrinkled like so many of us do. I started to wonder who ... Read Full Story >>
It is so often true that "what goes around, comes around," and that life lessons often walk in through the most unexpected doors. One hot summer, several years ago, my son and I were taking a trip by train. But first we had to take a bus into the city to the station to catch the train. I was a single Mom and as usual, since times were hard and money was very tight, we simply could not afford any extras. So we packed a large lunch bag of snacks and sandwiches, and had a small cooler filled with sodas to get us through the trip. We were still many miles from the train station, out in the middle of nowhere, when the bus suddenly completely broke down. The poor driver was mortified, and after calling ahead to the station, assured us, apologizing over and over, that they were sending another bus to rescue us. We ... Read Full Story >>
Yesterday my son, daughter and I went to the grocery store. Ahead of us in line was a little girl with her mother. The little girl was asking her mother for a box of Smarties. She was asking very politely and you could see it almost broke the mother's heart when she said, "I'm sorry, Honey, but we just can't afford it." My son was watching that dialogue. Incidentally, he had been raking leaves in our yard to raise himself some money to buy a treat. As he watched the mother and daughter leave the store, he ran to the candy counter and grabbed a box of Smarties. (It turns out that I had also grabbed one pack). My son proudly placed the Smarties on the conveyor belt, pulled out his money and bought the Smarties. He turned to look at me and I just nodded. Out he ran after the ... Read Full Story >>
My Dad's company provided rental accommodations for its employees, usually in multi-level buildings. We were on level 4. For two years, my Dad had been pursuing his application for a ground level house to make the climb easier for my mom who had suffered complications after her second delivery. She was advised bed rest and climbing the stairs everyday was difficult for her. As luck had it, just at that time, my Dad's ground level application was granted and Mum and Dad were thrilled to move in to the ground level accommodation in a separate building that was closer to my Dad's office. Without wasting time, they did the big move the following Saturday and mum was very relieved & excited. The following Monday, when my Dad returned from work and was about to enter the house, he saw an old lady and her old husband struggling to bring a wheelchair down the stairs. He was shocked ... Read Full Story >>
When I was in my first year of college, I hit a stretch where every area of my life was a disaster, I felt hopeless and alone, and more depressed than I knew was possible. On one such day, I was walking from class across campus to catch my bus home, head down, fighting tears of total despair, when a guy came down the sidewalk toward me. I had never seen him before. Embarrassed at being seen in such an emotional mess, I turned my head away and hoped to hurry past. I figured he'd walk on by, but he moved until he was directly in front of me, waited until I looked up, then smiled. Looking into my eyes, this stranger spoke in a quiet voice: "Whatever is wrong will pass. You're going to be ok, just hang on." He, then, smiled again and walked away. I can't explain ... Read Full Story >>
Smiling Is Infectious
by Jez Alborough*
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I'd passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don't leave it undetected.
Let's start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!
*This was formerly misattributed to Spike Mulligan. The original author is Jez Alborough.
On New Year's eve my husband and I stopped in San Francisco for dinner on our way back from a retreat. While eating we felt that we should do something different this year. I took a $20 bill and asked the restaurant owner to give me $5 bills. After dinner, we headed out on the streets to find homeless people. The first guy we came across was sitting with a paper cup in his hand. We dropped in a $5 bill and moved on. Right across the street we saw another man sitting outside a a club with his guitar. We requested him to play some music for us and he obliged, after which we dropped a bill in his cup. Then my husband asked me if I would pose with the man for a picture. Initially, I hesitated although I thought that was a great idea. After some more ... Read Full Story >>
One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class ... Read Full Story >>
This was a story I wanted to share with you, from a woman who helps the homeless. I am a mother of three and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, 'Smile.' The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake. Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald's one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of ... Read Full Story >>
A few months ago, while driving home from work, I was thinking about my long tiring day at work and worrying about my other half, and would he be OK when I got home. My partner of 6 years, was lying in bed at home, sick and facing a long illness and possibly death. That day several clients had paid for thier jobs and one of them even paid extra, since he was very pleased with our graphics & photography work. On the way, I stopped at a gas station (slightly out of my way) to gas up my car before heading home. When I went in to pre-pay for my gas, I saw a man with his his son ahead of me in the line. They were a little dirty from working & painting at a local job site. The clerk behind the counter seemed annoyed and not interested in ... Read Full Story >>
This is what True Love is all about: It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 a.m., when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him look at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, we began to engage in conversation. I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The ... Read Full Story >>
The kindness story I am about to tell is a collaborative project, and it will hopefully involve you! I live on Cape Ann in Eastern Massachusetts, and this Thursday, one of our youngest community leaders will be celebrating her 29th birthday. Her name is Sara, and she’s is a very wonderful and hard-working young woman who has already made a big difference to the lives of many people in Gloucester, as the 2007 manager of our summer Farmers’ Market which she helped start in 2006, as the director of our very dynamic local arts organization, and as a wonderful human being with many friends, a great dog, and a fabulous smile! I need your creative help to cook up a special gift for Sara’s birthday. Let me explain! A friend of Sara recent sent me an invitation to the birthday party which said… “You are invited to the ‘beginning-of-an-end-of-an-era-with-Sara’ party! That's right. Sara ... Read Full Story >>
"Right on. This is my kind of protest," he says while going past me. I hadn't thought of it way before. But perhaps it is a protest for lack of smiles in the world. About 15 of us gathered earlier today to create poster boards that we would proudly hold up on busy street intersections of San Francisco. The posters would say simple things like "smile" or "smile anyways" or "spare a smile?" or "smile, it's free". We weren't doing this as a part of any organization but rather as friends and well-meaning citizens of the world. After our morning creative sessions, we split up into teams of four and spread over various intersections on San Francisco's Van Ness Road. My team was at the Lombard intersection, one of the busiest. For the first couple minutes, there's always that awkward question mark on your face -- "I am making a fool of myself?" ... Read Full Story >>
Let Me Be A Little Kinder Glen Campbell Let me be a little kinder Let me be a little blinder To the faults of those about me Let me praise a little more Let me be when I am weary Just a little bit more cheery Think a little more of others And a little less of me Let me be a little braver When temptation bids me waver Let me strive a little harder To be all that I should be Let me be a little meeker With the brother that is weaker Let me think more of my neighbor And a little less of me Let me be when I am weary Just a little bit more cheery Let me serve a little better Those that I am strivin' for Let me be a little meeker With the brother that is weaker Think a little more of others And a little less of me We attend a funeral service planned for Danny at 2pm on Friday. ~ModestoBob Last week, two days before Father’s Day, a close personal ... Read Full Story >>
A few years ago I was an employee of an international company that sold computer devices. I had to travel a lot as part of my work. I remember that I was at a stage of my life where I only cared about how to make more money and how to solve technical problems. I was locked in my own world living as a robot that only worked in a mechanical way. On one of my work trips, I came to the airport to take a bus to downtown, as usual. It was the same routine: get into the city, take the bus to the hotel, check in, visit the client, work late, take the bus back to the airport and fly back out... That day, for some reason, something was different. I decided not to take the same exit in the airport and took the stairs down to a different exit and ... Read Full Story >>