This is a random act of kindness that happened to me on Sunday morning, as five of us got off of the 19 MUNI at Hyde and Fulton Street in San Francisco. It was at two in the morning, and we had just finished clubbing it up at a Persian Club and were trying to find our way back to Berkeley. There must have been this look of fear on our faces and in our voices as we were trying to figure out where the AC Transit stop was. As we nervously chattered amongst ourselves, a homeless man a little ways away yelled at us, “What you lookin’ for?” Ignoring him, our voices trying to figure out what to do got a little more frantic. “Excuse me!, what are you looking for? Powell is up one street.” I finally said, after much internal debating, “No, we’re looking for the AC ... Read Full Story >>
One day, while I was walking to work, I decided to bring some flowers that I had picked from my garden that morning. I came across a random stranger, and was inspired to give the bunch to him with a smile card. Struck by the sense of joy I felt from giving flowers to another person, and maybe brightening his day, I wanted to do it again. When I got to my office, I had the idea of anonymously leaving flowers around the workplace. Sometimes, the impersonal atmosphere of the building where I work numbs my spirits a little. It's a nice building, with great light, but it just feels a little sterile sometimes. I figured lots of people might feel the same way, so why not put a little beauty there, and throw in an inspirational quote while I'm at it? After all, who doesn't like flowers? So, for the past month, I've been putting flowers ... Read Full Story >>
This morning, I arrived at my office a bit earlier to catch up on some emails. It was relatively empty, with people trickling in here and there. On the way to work today, I had also stopped by the grocery store to pick up some fruits to share with my colleagues during our morning meeting. I couldn't help it when I passed a fresh stack of yellow flowers on my way to the cash register... I had to pick some up, along with a few chocolate bars, to gift in some way. With the office so empty, I decided to take the opportunity to pick a few random desks to plop the chocolate bars on. :) My heart raced a bit as I scurried through the office, headed towards cubicles and areas where no one had come in yet. :) I placed one on the CEO's desk, and snuggled a smile card ... Read Full Story >>
A couple months back, a few friends had driven me to the airport. Little did I know that on the whole ride there, two of them were writing quotes and uplifting messages on post-it notes in the backseat. :) When I arrived at my destination and opened my luggage, I found post-it notes of inspiration tucked all over my clothes and belongings! :) And-- they had scattered them inside my backpack as well! So for the next month, I would randomly pull out a smile-inducing sticky note when looking to grab a pen or some chapstick. I ended up sticking all these notes on the wall next to my bed, as a daily reminder of the tremendous joy that can spring forth from such a small gesture of love. Today, two months later, I wanted to spread some kindness around my neighborhood in honor of an elder's birthday. He's someone who has given ... Read Full Story >>
Over the holidays last year, my team at work did a 'Secret Santa' gift exchange. We all picked a name out of a jar, and gave our assigned person small fun gifts over two weeks. Then, we all met after work one day for a final 'reveal' where we exchanged our real gifts. Usually, these kinds of gift exchanges feel a bit more focused on material things than I like to be, but I wanted to be a team player, so I went along with it. It ended up being fun to scheme up a meaningful trail of gifts to give my colleague. On the evening of our final gift-giving exchange, the person who had picked my name out of the jar totally blew me away with her thoughtfulness. She gave me a beautiful framed photo and a postcard that she'd been holding on to since she was 5 years old. Then, ... Read Full Story >>
Today, I was rushing to an appointment and I passed a man sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against a building, holding a cardboard sign over his head. As I sped-walked past him, I glanced at the sign-- it read "Anything Helps" in thin, blue ink. You could barely read it if you weren't looking closely. There are many homeless people in the city where I live, and I've recently noticed how, when I first moved to this city a decade ago, I'd stop and do whatever I could each time I passed by someone in need, whereas now, I walk right by and avoid interacting as much as possible. I've been wondering why that is. Have I gotten busier? More cautious and jaded over time? Even though I know a human being is a human being, no matter what mental state or social status they carry, or how much or little money ... Read Full Story >>
I recently was taking a trip out of town and had to get up early to catch a flight. A friend who lives a ten minutes from the airport had kindly offered to drop me there on his way to work that morning. I planned to drive to his house, park my car there, and then carpool with him the rest of the way. It turns out, I didn't leave early enough, as I hit up against some very unexpected traffic along the way. At 6:10 AM, I literally moved one mile in 45 minutes. (In no traffic, it would only take 25 minutes to drive to this friend's house.) Given the early hour, I hadn't budgeted much buffer time for traffic into this trip. It was a workday morning, and I didn't want to make my friend late for work, so as I sat stalled in traffic, I called him to ... Read Full Story >>
I'm a bit of an introvert. I've spent every weekend so far this year in my room or in the library working. It doesn't matter what kind of work, school work, debate work, just work that requires only a book, word document, and a quiet space. So yesterday when my friend asked me to go to an improv show with her after dinner I habitually retorted "No thanks, I have a lot of work to do." I didn't anticipate this being much of an argument, but 10 minutes and a few persuasive exchanges later I found myself saying "Ok I'll go, but just this once." I was still in a bit of shock about my response, to be honest. I had broken my streak of 6 straight weeks without socializing. But I couldn't say no to my friend this time. I decided I would be a kind fellow and keep ... Read Full Story >>
A couple days ago I was driving across a bridge on my way to a friend's house. As I neared the toll booth I spontaneously decided to pay the toll for the car behind me.
I rolled down my window, asked to pay for the person behind me, and handed the toll booth operator a Smile card. That's when I noticed a puzzled look on the toll booth operator's face.
"What's going on today?" she asked, her brows furrowed. "You're the second car to do this!"
"That's great," I said. "It's a good day!" I smiled back and kept smiling ear to ear as I drove away.
How uplifting to see that Smile cards and paying-forward the bridge toll are becoming more and more mainstream!
A few years ago, I was working in a small (50-ish person) office. I noticed that even though the size of the organization was not huge, we often worked in our disparate teams; and while everyone was friendly, there was an underlying sense of anonymity and efficiency in the workplace culture. One particular week, I decided I wanted to make people smile, but I wanted to do it anonymously, perhaps with the slight hope that it'd invite a subtle sense of trust or playfulness in the work culture. So one evening, I wrote up a few quotes that have inspired me over the years. The next morning, I went to work a bit early and quickly posted them up by the sinks and mirrors in the office restrooms. Maybe someone else would enjoy the quote as much as I had, and perhaps it might just freshen their day, I thought. For the ... Read Full Story >>
"Hi, ma'am! Glad to have you on here today. There's a seat right here, just step up to your left." I'd never heard a more cheerful bus driver. I put my book down and craned my neck around in my seat. My eyes caught the sight of an older blind woman amid a wave of people filtering onto the bus. She nudged her walking stick forward, stepped up, and got situated in her seat. "What stop are you getting off at today?" the bus driver called out, his voice as sing-songy as a bird in Springtime. "Downtown subway," the woman answered. The bus continues making its way downtown. At each stop, the bus driver flashes a wide smile, nodding his head at familiar faces and contented greeting people onto his humble transportation abode. "Nice to see you again!" "How are you doing today?" "Haven't seen you in awhile!" "You're at a new stop, today!" "Great to see ... Read Full Story >>
A friend reached out this afternoon and asked if she could come by to spend some time in stillness. Two days back, she got news her grandmother passed away, on the other side of the globe. They were very close, and due to some commitments in the coming days, she couldn't leave right away to be by her side. I actually don't know her well, but there was a resonance in values that connected us. She had attended a few gatherings that some friends and I have hosted, and her attendance had always added a gentle presence to the circle and in the conversations she'd find herself in. I was touched by the way she reached out -- and her intent to spend time in silence, a sacred space to honor and connect with her grandmother. On my end, it happened to be a busier than usual day, and I was already behind ... Read Full Story >>