Last week, I did a little experiment. Instead of holding class during a holiday week, I didn't show. Except that I left a tote bag on the door of class in the engineering building, with a bunch of Smile Cards and $200 in $10 bills. And this note: Hey, That's the way many of the email messages I receive begin. It's a handy shorthand solution to the question of how to greet someone you know but don't know. Others--many fewer--begin with the word "Dear." It's a holdover from the time when we wrote actual personal letters. I still like that, and treasure the rare gift of a personal, handwritten note almost as much as an authentic conversation about something more than a transaction issue, like a grade, a missed assignment, an evaluation of some kind--criticism or praise included. So my preference is to start with Dear... Would you read this aloud to everyone else ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I was shopping for groceries at the local store. The specialty of the store is free stands where customers are given samples of new products.
Being an ice-cream lover, I gravitated towards the free ice-cream stand and the clerk in-charge gave me a big smile saying "You are lucky! This is really popular and this is the last cone I have to give away!"
I was happy too, until I turned around to see a toddler craning her neck up to see my cone with one hand pulling her Mom's dress. Disappointment was written all over her face. Apparently, Mom had just explained the idea called 'no more' to her.
I knelt down, extended the cone and asked if she'd like to have it. Four faces lit up all at-once! And that tasted better than ice-cream :)
Here in Canada, we have a chain of coffee places called Tim Hortons. It was the middle of winter, and as usual, the drive-thru wait for coffee at Hortons was around 5 minutes. Not forever, but long enough to create a slight inconvenience for me, who at the time was horribly late for work. Like I did everyday, I got to the order box and placed my order for a coffee and a muffin. So far, nothing about my routine was different. I proceeded to have my $2.65 ready, in exact change as I strive accomplish most mornings. As I approached the drive-thru window, I was handed my coffee. This was a little odd, but didn't register at first. Normally, they will not hand you your coffee and food until they have payment. The lady behind the window then says, "Sir, your order has been paid for by the person that was ... Read Full Story >>
When one of my colleagues was diagnosed with cancer, he decided to take a leave of absence. He decided to take leave not only because he was undergoing treatment, but also because his wife was going through treatment for a brain tumor. Given that they were both in bad shape, he decided to take the leave so that they could enjoy each other's company while they still had the chance. Before he went on his leave, he purposely came to his office after hours to gather his personal belongings - just in case. At the office, we all felt very bad but didn't know how to keep in touch with him and his family without bothering them. So here is what I did: I bought cards with envelopes and distributed them to all the people in our group. Then I sent an email to everyone encouraging my colleagues to write something, anything, for our friend. I then ... Read Full Story >>
This is one of the happiest songs I have ever heard -- Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy. Every time I'm down, I listen to this and I wanna share my happiness with you all. Here's the video and below it are the lyrics to the song: Don't Worry, Be Happy Performed by Bobby McFerrin Here is a little song I wrote You might want to sing it note for note Don't worry be happy In every life we have some trouble When you worry you make it double Don't worry, be happy...... Ain't got no place to lay your head Somebody came and took your bed Don't worry, be happy The land lord say your rent is late He may have to litigate Don't worry, be happy Lood at me I am happy Don't worry, be happy Here I give you my phone number When you worry call me I make ... Read Full Story >>
My friend Robert started a new job this week and he's been in training class for two days. The employer has a very strict dress code --- dark blue shirts and khaki pants. On the first day, an older gentleman in his class did not have the proper attire and he was sternly told that he would be dismissed if he didn't have the right attire the next day. He explained, "Sir, I had not been told about this. Because of my larger size, it's sometimes difficult to find the right clothing for a price I can afford." Last night, Robert and I decided that this old man shouldn't lose his job simply because he couldn't afford the clothes. I had some cash on hand at home and Robert took it with him this morning just in case it was needed. When training started this morning, the trainer was ready to fire ... Read Full Story >>
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?' The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. 'I believe, that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.' Then he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay ... Read Full Story >>
I was working in a supermarket promoting a new variety of bread. My job was to hand out slices of bread; it was very monotonous and at times very hard to keep motivated saying the same thing over and over again.
So I decided to change it up, and alter my perspective on the situation. With a piece of bread in my hand, I started to say, "Would you like to try a slice of love? And I'm also giving away free hugs today."
And so I started hugging complete strangers, as they passed by my aisle.
The reactions of the people absolutely blew me away! An older lady said she had not been hugged in two years. I was so moved by our brief conversation that I decided that I'm always going to be ever-ready to share my hugs freely – you just never know who might need them!
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 >>
She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. "Hello," she said. I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. I'm building," she said. "I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring. "Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand." That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said. "It's a what?" "It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy." The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. ... Read Full Story >>
As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big 'F' at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she ... Read Full Story >>
When I was 9, my sister, two other friends and I used to go to local nursing homes to sing for the elderly on Sunday afternoons.
One Sunday we went to see the elderly and a little lady was having her 102nd birthday party.
The staff told us we had to leave because of the party. The lady immediately said, "Oh no. They are here to entertain my guests." I'll never forget how important I felt that day -- entertaining her and her guests on her special day.
A few months later she passed away. Bless her heart for including us in such a glorious time.
When we had finished singing that day, she insisted we have a big piece of cake and punch. Then she gathered us each in her arms and hugged us. I think that might have been the best hug I've ever had. We were there to make her feel good but she made me feel good too. I'll never forget that bright sparkle in her eyes when she called us her singing angels.
My grandparents, Gene and Opal Howard, recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Our whole family was struggling with what to get them. They both had asked for only cards and no gifts -- they had everything already and just wanted to be with friends and family. Still everyone wanted to put money or get something for them. I couldn't give money but wanted to do something special for them to let them know how proud I am of having them as my grandparents. So, I went to my Aunt, who they live with, and asked her to please give me all the old pictures of them that she could find. Then, with the help of my best friend, I put together a hand-made scrapbook for them, which was filled with lots of fond memories. When I gave them their scrapbook at the open house, I told them I knew they ... Read Full Story >>
A few years ago, I was working "on loan" to a company grocery store, as they were short-handed during the Christmas Holidays. I was not used to the management nor the clientele at this unit. As I was checking groceries that morning, an elderly man in a wheelchair came through my checkstand with a basket filled with candy, cigars, and a few trinkets. As I finished ringing up his purchases, I told the man the dollar amount and he presented an out-of-state check from his son. He explained to me that his son had sent him the check for his Christmas present and he wanted to use it to purchase gifts for the friends and wonderful staff at the nursing home located a few blocks behind the store where he resided. Since this was not my "home" store, I needed to have the check approved prior to accepting it. When ... Read Full Story >>
About a year ago, I was packing to move myself and my son in with my fiance and his daughter. My son was finally weaning off baby foods, so as I was packing up the kitchen things, I packed up his old baby food. My step-daughter came into the kitchen to see what I was doing. When she saw me packing up her little brother's food, she squealed! Why was I taking away all his food???!!! I laughed and told her that her little brother was big enough now to eat big people food, just like she does. I then told her that I was going to give all his jars of baby food to the shelter up the street. I explained that some people don't have jobs, clothes, food or houses and that she and her brother were very lucky that her Daddy and I make enough money to give them ... Read Full Story >>
My seven-year old son had been given a gift of "creating stained glass kit" decorative pieces and enthusiastically went to work making beautiful color combinations that could be hung on a glass window. The kit had 4 different pieces to complete and two of them got ruined in the process. But the other two were real "masterpieces" of kid artwork and he was very thrilled to see them hanging on our window. The pieces remained there for some months and then one day my son's piano teacher came to our house (which was not usual) to give him a lesson and he casually admired the stained glass. As soon as his lesson was done, my son ran out of the room, wrapped up the stained glass piece and presented it proudly to his teacher! A few months after that we had a friend visiting from out of town and she too admired ... Read Full Story >>
It was the early 1990s. During the bleak years of the Bosnian war, the Serbian Army surrounded the city seeking it's surrender and the expulsion of all non-Serbians. The residents, with a minimal volunteer and civilian militia, were unorganized but mounted a spectacularly brave defense. From around the world, many people converged to help them. It was an almost magnetic pull to serve a valiant and vulnerable expression of our human experience. I was one amongst those who came. Fueled by Hemingway and feeling much like the Spanish Civil War, international brigade volunteers were driving ambulances around town. And yet it was resident foreigners who were causing the most distress in their hurry to leave the besieged city. The strong passports allowed most to escape the darkest days, and to sojourn on the Dalmation coast filling their memoirs with a few notes, before going home. A few of us, though, stayed during ... Read Full Story >>
Just saw this on CNN today:
Perhaps all our collective good karma is impacting the world after all! Keep spreading the goodness, friends.
I was on my school's campus the other day and there was an ice cream truck parked right in front of one of the main common areas of the school. Since I had primarily seen ice cream men drive their musical trucks around neighborhoods for elementary school kids, I never thought an ice cream man would circle our campus and come for us, overgrown kids, such as myself. I was intrigued and was prompted to investigate further. I was quite surprised when the sweet and rather chubby man in the truck called out, "free ice cream!". I questioned him just to confirm his words saying, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" "Free ice cream, you have your choice of these four frozen treats: the rocket pop, the chocolate eclair, the strawberry shortcake, or the drumstick ." After I got the confirmation that this guy is just giving away free ice cream, I talked with the man for a while. He told me that his dream had always ... Read Full Story >>
I thought it was rather odd when my friend from the nursing home asked me to motor her wheelchair through the puddles that formed from the melting snow. I didn't really get it, but I went along with it. We were out on one of our walks or what I like to call one of our"weekly strolls" because I stand and she rolls. Adhering to my friend's peculiar request, we were off on our watery wheelchair adventure! We splashed through each puddle together and came out of each experience, slightly damp and smiling. In fact, after a few puddle excursions, even I started looking out for larger and more daunting puddles to sail through until one day we were out on our stroll, and to our dismay, no puddles were to be found. They had all dried up. Keen on keeping our strolling adventure alive, we discovered something new that awaited us. As we headed down the residential street, there was a small pile of leaves. My friend asked me to roll her through ... Read Full Story >>
I'm in Africa right now on a peace-keeping mission with the Army. This is my 5th deployment and I volunteered for every one of them (sort of). Anyway, this story is not about me or the army or even Africa for that matter. It's about the way people can become karma aides even when they are in need of it themselves. I subscribed to this online program for soldiers, where we put our addresses on the website and random people write to us and send care packages and thank you letters. I got one the other day that was a letter from a lady living in Pennsylvania. She was thanking us for all we do and telling us how much she prays for the troops. This lady is originally from Russia, married an American soldier and moved to Pennsylvania. She explained all of this in her letter. I was moved by ... Read Full Story >>
Two of my dear friends got married last Saturday, May 2nd -- a special date for the wonderful souls. But what it was even more special was their intention: "We would like our wedding, and in fact our entire marriage to be about creating more good in the world." When I got their *personalized* wedding invitation exuding love, creativity and inspiration, my heart was instantaneously filled with gratitude and joy. Circumstances didn't allow me to attend their wedding in person, but I tried to celebrate their union in a unique way. Ever since I received their invitation, two and half months ago, I thought about this wonderful couple -- every day, twice a day actually. I thought of the fusion of these two beautiful hearts, and I sent along my secular blessings. (I guess I took the inscription on their wedding invite literally: "No gifts please - Your Blessings is our Gift"). That ... Read Full Story >>
There was about 15 of us folks chalking in front of the downtown Berkeley BART station. We started with about ten adventurers and as the momentum increased, we gained more energy, creative inspiration, and people. In the beginning, many pedestrians stopped by us, paused briefly out of curiousity, and for the most part remained rather perplexed by our so-called 'deviant' behavior. However, after we chalked up some cheerful colors and phrases on the beautiful red stones in the area, people came over just to take a peek and see what adults chalkers really do. Folks came by with cameras. Small children pointed at us and tugged the hands of their parents to have them take a look. This one particular man in a suit came out of the station, appearing as if he had had an exhausting day. Yet, he managed to trudge a bit closer to us to read the ... Read Full Story >>
One evening in July, a few friends and I decided we would get together to brainstorm an idea for a local Smile Card event in London -- something we could do as a group to share smiles anonymously and cultivate kindness in our hearts. We came up with a few suggestions and then picked an idea that got everyone excited and moved ahead with planning it – we were going to bake and decorate 200 cupcakes, buy a bunch of sweets, make some fun smile posters and give it all away at Hyde Park! Our little team of 6 people spent a month planning every fine detail from inviting friends to get involved, baking cupcakes ahead of time, buying supplies, getting t-shirts that say SMILE and a banner with a giant Smile Card on it and visiting the park ahead of time to find the perfect spot for the event. A special thanks ... Read Full Story >>
This week we took a handcrafted sign that we made down to our local Salvation Army and presented it to the captain. The sign read ‘HOPE’. He had an idea of where to put it as soon as he read it. The look on his face showed appreciation, with a touch of bewilderment. This organization sees, first-hand, the struggles of so many people. The reason we made and gifted them the sign is to help lives, who are in need of believing in a better tomorrow. A simple word can say so much. Life dishes out hard hits and unjust situations for all of us, at one time or another. We hope for an answer, a change of circumstance, or even a miracle. Some are hanging on to hope with all the strength they have. What would life be like living with no hope? What would the world be like? To ... Read Full Story >>
This weekend, a group of us were in Union Square, New York, watching Tylon and Macho, two contortionists and street dancers, put on a jaw dropping performance that included jumping over 7 people. At the end, the hundreds of people watching began putting money into their bucket.
One tiny little girl walks up with her mom, she couldn't have been more than 2 years old. Tylon, who grew up in the Harlem projects, reaches into his bucket, folds up a couple of dollar bills, and hands them to the little girl. Everyone who witnessed it was stunned and humbled by this pure act of giving. Our jaws dropped for a second time.
Inspired, my bro, Shrey, later pulled out several more bills and we snuck them into Tylon's bucket without him seeing. His small, simple act of giving will not be forgotten.
If you happen to be in New York, be sure to catch these do-gooders Thurs-Sun evenings in Union Square, across from the Whole Foods!
Last year, around Labor Day, I read a "Happy Ad" in our local newspaper. There was a lady in a local nursing home, who was celebrating her 90th birthday and her family wanted everyone to know about it. It said that if you wanted to drop her a line, here was her address. So I did. I found a birthday card and dropped her a short note, wishing her a happy birthday. A week or so later, someone knocked at my front door. I opened the door and found a middle-aged man standing on my doorstep. He introduced himself as the son of this woman to whom I had sent the card. He explained that he just wanted to drop by in person and thank me for sending such a nice card to his mom. Apparently, like many older folks, she did not receive much mail and was quite excited to receive mine. I ... Read Full Story >>
There's a woman I work with who is very shy. She doesn't usually share much about herself so I don't know her very well. At the beginning of the week, a group of my co-workers and I were gathered around the water fountain. This woman was there too. Usually she is fairly quiet, but today she was unloading all her woes.....I listened (without interrupting) while she shared her many concerns and life challenges with the group. Some of the group rolled their eyes or tried to change the subject I suspected because they did not want their precious break time spent on someone else's problems. I could tell she was really stressed and disheartened. Even, her appearance spoke volumes - her posture was poor with slumped shoulders, she has deep furrow lines on her forehead, her eyes had no sparkle and she had dark circles. She seemed to be surrounded by ... Read Full Story >>
It had been a long time since I had been to Jacksonville, Florida. I had driven to town hoping to see the old barber shop where my hair had been cut as a child. The orphanage would bring us kids downtown for a free haircut by the new barbers being trained. As I wondered around, I was a little disappointed when I saw the old buildings that I had known as a young boy were now gone. Every one of them had been replaced with new high-rise buildings. As it was very early and hardly anyone was on the street, I parked my truck and decided to try and locate a telephone to see if the Florida Barber College had moved to a new location. Hopefully it was sill in business. As it was rather cold, I put on my coat and began searching for a telephone. After walking about a ... Read Full Story >>
She was a janitor at a school in India. Her husband died soon after her marriage, she didn't have any family in the area. She struggled with the responsibility of raising her kids. For the last twenty years, she's continued to sweep classrooms at local schools. One day, though, she had a radical idea: I want to give. It was followed-up by a reasonable yet confusing thought: But what can I possibly give? When she narrated her desire to a friend, he told her a story. "Gandhi used to write many letters. One day, Kakasaheb Kalelkar, a famous Indian author, saw him writing with a tiny pencil and immediately offered Gandhi a bigger pencil from his pocket. Gandhi politely said that he didn't need it. The next day, he saw Gandhi scrambling to find his pencil and Kakasaheb again offered him a pencil saying, 'Your pencil was so small anyway.' Gandhi gently ... Read Full Story >>