A friend of mine in Chicago sent me an e-mail with her description of an uplifting event that she witnessed... "And talking about beautiful...yesterday I was witness to such a heartwarming random act of kindness. It will forever be imprinted in my mind. I had to run downtown to help Bonnie out for a few hours (it was not part of my original plans for Monday). On my bus ride back to the train station, we were in gridlock traffic right by the opera house. As I stare out my window a handsome young man (25ish to 30ish) walks out of the side door of the Opera House. It's cold and windy outside. He has on a heavy army-issued jacket and a scarf wrapped around his neck. As he's walking towards the bridge there are three homeless men with their cups, each sitting maybe 15 feet from one other. The young man ... Read Full Story >>
A few years ago, this southern Alabama town experienced unusually frigid weather, cold enough to knock out the power for days. My husband, braving the cold, was on the way to the grocery to resupply our perishibles, and passed a police officer. He was standing in the middle of a fairly remote and windblown intersection, directing traffic. He thought of the officer again when he'd completed his errands, thinking of how cold he must be, stopped at a convenience store and bought a large cup of hot chocolate or coffee, it escapes me now. But, when passing the officer again, he rolled down his window, passed the cup to the officer, and thanked him for his help. My husband's description of the expression on the officer's face was that he was surprised, and grateful. What a simple, easy way to practice these thoughts we have.
Got on the plane in Minneapolis for the two hour and nine minute flight to NY. Spent the first nine minutes of it talking to the young curly-brown-haired passenger with long sideburns. In the first three minutes of talking to him I noticed on the back of his hand a ball-point-pen tattoo. One word. "Lost". And for some reason that touched me. In the same inexplicable way that "Help Wanted" signs in store windows do sometimes. That people would be so honest, so open about their vulnerability. I wonder what he is going through. This fellow passenger with his friendly manner who freelances for the magazine "Popular Photography" and moved back to his hometown in Lawrence, Kansas from NY- because even though there's a lot you can do in NY there's a lot that you can't do there when you're broke. And now he's learning how to do video editing and trying to ... Read Full Story >>
When I decided to be a part of the smile card experiment, the first person that came to mind to target was Lara, a fellow member of my research group and a mentor. I couldn't think of the perfect thing for her yet and on top of that found out that it was her birthday 2 months back. The next day, at a local deli, inspiration struck when I saw their freshly baked honey wheat bread. I picked up a loaf and headed to lab. Unfortunately or fortunately, Lara wasn't in her office, so I put a note on the loaf reading: Lara, Happy Belated Birthday! I really like this honey wheat bread and thought you would enjoy! An hour later, she comes by and I innocently tell her someone left a package for her. She reads the note and immediately looks at me, "Did you leave this?" I try my best to ... Read Full Story >>
Each week, I give my elderly neighbor a ride to the store, when I am going. She keeps trying to pay me, and I keep refusing. I tell her that it doesn't cost any more for her to ride with me. Last week, she brought an envelope saying, "I have something for you." I said, "If it has money in it, I don't want it." But, she laid it on a stand. Later, I opened it to find a 'thank you' card with $10.00 in it. That night, I stopped at her house to give some extra fried chicken that I had. I took a plain card, put the $10.00 in it along with a 'Smile' card, and when leaving, left it stuck in her storm door. The next day, stopping by to return my dish, she said, "Look, I know you put that letter in my door this morning, ... Read Full Story >>
This is about an incident which took place couple of years back. I used to frequently visit an old age home run by the little sisters of the poor in our city Hyderabad. A.P. (India) There I met a gentlemen by name Kurien who happened to be a Keralite in his late eighties. He served the Indian army and retired. He has one son who is well educated and also married. He just does not bother to take care of him nor respect him while he is in the house. Mr. Kurien got dejected with the life in his house and decided to move into this old age home here in Hyderabad. We both began to share a lot thoughts whenever we met and slowly it was a daily affair that I used to spend some time with him discussing what he was doing in the army, ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I arrived back home to our flat in London from my trip to visit my family in California to find a "mystery package", which someone had left with the porter in our building some time while my husband and I were both away. It was a large envelope with a wooden backing, and a small note on top reading "Deep and Trishna, Enjoy!" As soon as I opened the flap, I discovered a Smile Card attached, and I knew instantly that someone had anonymously reached out to us with an act of kindness. As I reached into the envelope, MUCH to my surprise, I pulled out a sketch by Manohar Devadoss. My heart instantly melted by the idea that someone reached out to us with such a beautiful drawing by a person, whose life has touched mine from the minute I read Pavi's piece on him and his wife. ... Read Full Story >>
It was a routine trip. We, my wife and I, are walking back home from the grocery store when we spontaneously decide to walk into a coffee shop. As my wife orders a small cup of coffee at the counter, I huddle our grocery bags under our table and get ready to share some hot coffee on this unusually cold day. Just then, my eyes catch glimpse of a young woman in her thirties escorting a rather frail Mexican woman into the shop. Maybe it was the gentleness of their encounter or a vague familiarity with the circumstances, but something about them grabs my full attention. I immediately feel an impulse to do something for them. Anything. Unfortunately, before I can gather my wits, they leave the coffee shop without ordering anything! When my wife returns, I tell her of my silent encounter. "But I ... 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 >>
“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 >>
When you buy things with money, you feel like its owed to you. But when you receive something as an offering from someone else, the gift is a reminder of something bigger than yourself and you are filled with a humble reverance for all life. Well, this is a story of one of those gifts. In our middle-class living room, we have three shelves of books. We call it the "open source" bookshelf because any of our guests can take any book and contribute any book to it. No one tracks it; it's all based on trust, even though our home hosts many events with hundreds of different people passing through it. These books are typically of the broader inspiration genre -- there's the general Chicken-Soup-For-Everyone books, self-help books like Power of Now, fictional masterpieces like Siddhartha, sacred texts like the Bible, Koran, the Dhammapada, and Gita, many biographies of ... Read Full Story >>
I was with my oldest son and we were on the lookout for an open parking space in our jam-packed shopping center. We spotted a perfect one in the next row of spaces, and I manouvered our van around the turn, all the while hoping no one else would spot it and grab it before I could. And, as luck would have it, a lady was wheeling her shopping cart right in front of us, and it looked like it was getting away from her - crammed with bags and cartons of soda underneath. She herself was carrying three extra bags in her hands while trying to push the cart against a strong spring wind, and looked frazzled. She noticed us and I could tell she was trying to move over to the side so we could pass. At that moment, some of the lighter ... Read Full Story >>
Hi I'm 12 years old and I recently saw a movie called 'Pay It Foreward'. It was all about doing random acts of kindness.
On mothers day today we had a bunch of roses in our church that went out to all the mothers. There were a few extra so i took the extra ones home with me and placed them on people in my neighborhoods doorsteps. Then when i was delivering newpapers on wednesday one of my neighbors had seen me drop of a rose at their doorstep, ran up to me and gave me a huge hug.
That had made my day, that sometimes people just need something small like a rose to make them happy!
When I was on CBS's Survivor - Africa all I had with me were the clothes on my back and my one luxury item of choice: a hackey sack. My hackey sack was my most prized possession, the one item that took me temporarily away from the Survivor game and home to the familiar... and I gave it away. It may sound silly, but it was a tough decision - a real moment of personal truth. I was with a group of other Survivor contestants distributing HIV/AIDS testing kits to a small village in Kenya when I met Milton. Milton didn't have any of the luxuries I had growing up- no TV, no bike, no PlayStation. But Milton's eyes were full of laughter, and they lit up when I produced my hackey sack. I knew exactly how Milton felt, and that I would be leaving my beloved hackey sack with him ... Read Full Story >>
I am a mother of two and always have had a special spot in my heart for people that have spent many years on this earth. I somehow fall into these peoples lives for some reason or another. One elderly woman needed a lot of care such as cooking, cleaning, dr. appts and so on which I was more than happy to help until she passed. Of course it broke my heart. Since then, I've befriended several others -- some just want to have lunch and tell their stories while others need help going to the store and getting their hair fixed every week. The main thing I have noticed is that when you get older for some reason people start to ignore you and they lose their voice? I understand that sometimes there is memory loss, however, it upsets me to see dr's and even family treat them ... Read Full Story >>
I have a big veggie garden and every year i plant a little more than i can handle. It's something like my eyes are bigger than my appetite. I decided to take all of my excess veggies down to the laundry mat with a sign that read "free veggies". I guess that those who use the laundry may prbably rent places and might not be able to plant a garden. I did this all summer and each time when i went to collect the box...it was empty!
Recently I graduated from high school, and as a gift I recieved a huge bouquet of carnations; 40 to be exact! I had so many that I didn't know what to do with them. The next weekend my niece and nephew came (ages 4 and 5) and we took every single carnation and tied a smile card to it's stem. We then went to our local Dillions Store and I gave each of them one flower at a time. I explained that these flowers would make other people smile, and then they could take the cards and do something nice for someone else! They loved the idea, but I wasn't sure if they fully grasped the idea. Furthermore, I thought that they possibly might get to shy at the last minute, but boy was I suprised! My nephew ran excitedly through the doors of the store and found the very ... Read Full Story >>
One of my favorite tags has been to pay for the person behined me on a bridge toll, and to ask the toll booth operator to give them a smile card.
I've always wondered what kind of ripples that would generate ..
Today a friend told me a talk he heard at a local Zen center. The speaker, an accomplished woman with many ongoing projects was describing how sometimes when she gets overwhelmed with responsibilities, she will roll up the windows to her car and scream. One day she was doing this right before reaching a tollbooth and found out someone had paid for her. As she described it, this completely turned her mentality around and literally made her day. It also made the day of my friend who heard the story today and decided to share.
That bridge is one I frequent.
A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes, carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door. She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did ... Read Full Story >>
I was catching a flight from Calcutta to Madras and had arrived at the airport rather early. Have always thought of airports as rather happy places- everyone at the beginning or the end of a journey- or both- such a sense of adventure in the air- and warmth- because people travel to see people and you know as you look around that that's someone's daughtersonhusbandwifefriendgrandmotheruncle cousinnephewhathaveyou and someone on the other end is going to be So Very Glad to see them. So until I saw the young couple sitting a few seats away from me, and noticed that the woman was crying-I'd never stopped to think that though airports are places of Adventurous Arrival they can also be about Difficult Departure. The young woman was crying, the young man was- not. He looked distinctly connected to her and decidedly uncomforting (and yes that is judgemental of me but so be ... Read Full Story >>
A few weeks ago, my mother, brothers and I went to Wal-Mart to get some things for my upcoming trip. It was pretty late, and the store, although huge, was very empty. However, as we approached the checkout lane, I noticed a lady wearing a baseball cap over her bare head. She looked tired, and it was pretty obvious that she was going through chemo.. .that, and my mother approached her and asked her. You see, a few years ago, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. It was really hard for all of us, exspecially since we were in the middle of my parents divorce. But she got through it...but I always remember how stressful that time was. So when I saw that lady, I turned around, back out of the check out line, and headed to the flower section! I found the prettiest bouquet of pink (breast cancer survival ... Read Full Story >>
I always seem to lose or toss sunglasses in my car. I noticed I did the same in my boyfriend's car recently. We both joked about them, but then we pulled up to a man at a street corner. It was a bright day and he was hoping someone would offer him some food or a bit of change. Instead, we gave him a pair of our sunglasses - the sun was so bright and he looked like he was a regular there.
Later that afternoon, on our way home, we pulled up at the same corner to see him wearing my sunglasses. We had the window down, and between lights he thanked us and mentioned that he hasn't enjoyed a beautiful day in so long.
When I was in hospital and just given birth to my first child a lady use to come in and dust and sweep. I would say 'Hello' and she would never answer. I did this repeatedly and no answer. I thought she may have been deaf. I was told that she was mute and had been because she had been in a concentration camp. She had recovered but some children threw 'crackers' at her window letting off very loud 'bangs', and she never spoke from that day on. On the day I was going home and I asked her if she would be my friend. No answer. I left her some magazines and told the staff to give them to her. I had left the hospital with my husband a new born child. Then I realized I had forgotten to ask the doctor something. I went back with my baby ... Read Full Story >>
My daughter's birthday is May 29. She was 6 by then. As it was Monday, we prefered to celebrate it earlier, i.e. on Saturday 27 May. This was easier for me as I'm free on Saturdays. On Thursday the entire family was busy packing the presents and putting funny pins on them. I promised my litte princess that I would wake her up early in the morning and distribute the presents to her classmates. I woke up at 05:30. After I took a bath, I planned to wake her up ... but.... as I came out from the bathroom, I realized that an earthquake struck. I screamed to wake my husband up and asked him to carry my daughter; and ran out of our house. We were watching our house swaying from outside. It happened for just 3 minutes, but... the piano thumbled down, tiles came down, some cracks appeared ... Read Full Story >>
A dear friend was only weeks away from death from cancer. She said she was sorry she wouldn't be able to see the ocean again and get her toes in the sand. We live in Central Virginia and she was unable to travel so the trip to the coast wasn't going to happen. Some of us decided the solution was pretty simple. We would surprise her and bring the beach to her. The beach included three tons of beautiful white sand dumped in her driveway, two cabanas, beach balls, pails, shovels, beach chairs, a variety of decorations and a fire pit for the bonfire on the beach at night. Of course we had s'mores on the beach. We also rented a sno-cone machine since it had gotten to the point where flavored ice was about all she was able to eat. We ... Read Full Story >>
She stood looking at every tag on the tree for over an hour. Ten years old and a heart of gold, she decided that she would give up one of her Christmas gifts to the boy named Joseph who needed clothes but wanted a skateboard.
Money was tight in our household but her argument was "Mom, I have a lot to be thankful for; maybe he doesn't have that much." That year when she unwrapped her empty gift box, she read the word Joseph in it. My daughter smiled her beautiful smile and we cried.
Ten years later, I lost that daughter in a car accident.
It's been 9 years and each Christmas I stand in front of the tree of angels at the store for an hour, searching for the "Josephs" who will get her gifts.
One year, a 15 year old girl wrote, "My baby brother needs clothes more than I need a photo album and film." So I got her box of scrapbook and photo supplies and I hope they had as much fun with it as I had shopping for her.
I know my Angel girl was watching over me that year. The girl's name was Johanna ... the same as my daughter.
For a long time, I have been toying with the idea of going abroad to do something worthwhile, a voluntary thing, either working with kids or animals... and have been spoiled for choices with the kind of organised things you can pick, different causes, different countries. It's very expensive though. And I was puzzling over how can I be able to afford the flights and costs and everything. And impatience took over me. I thought "I can't wait to do something, I have to do something worthwhile NOW!!" So I just got up off my bed, went downstairs and started making sandwiches and put some crisps and some biscuits and an apple into about 6 little disposable picnic bags, called a couple of friends and told them my idea - "we're going into the city to give this food out to the homeless!" My friends loved the idea and we ... Read Full Story >>
I work for Bell Mobility.
Recently I had a customer in my store who was fairly aggitated about his monthly bill. We talked for a good 20 minutes, not about the bill, rather his theory that there was no good left in this world.
The instant the words slipped from his mouth, I was thinking to myself 'gotcha!' While he wasn't looking, I slipped a smile card into the envelope for his bill with a the words 'think not of all the misery in this world, but of the beauty that remains.' He didn't notice, which was perfect and left my store.
Two hours later, he drove back (through a terrible storm might I add) and walked into the store holding the card in his hand and a big ol' genuine smile on his face. He said, 'This is exactly what the world needs... more kind people like yourself.' He gave me a hug and off he went.
I watched him leave the parking lot outside and sighed in relief... ah, nothing better than a good days work.
On a Saturday morning, I glanced out of our window to see our chubby, middle-aged postman huffing and puffing on his rounds. I went out with a glass of water. He refused it politely but stopped for a few minutes to chat.
He told me about how his delivery car has no air conditioning but federal law requires that he has to drive with his windows fully shut so terrorists can not get to it easily!
I wanted to offer him something cool - so while he went about his rounds, I frantically looked for something he could take with him and found a cucumber from our garden.
When he came to drop off our mails, I offered it to him and his round, chubby face lit up instantly!
He started talking about his garden and how he cares for his garden. I could sense a bit of sadness when he said that his cucumber wines didn't flourish this summer. But he immediately smiled and said "but am so happy to see healthy ones from another garden!"
As he moved on , turned back and said that sharing of this cucumber meant a lot for the gardener within him. It meant a whole lot for me too.
It was Neil's 10th birthday party. After a dozen close friends super-soaked each other with water and stuffed themselves with food and cake, this sunny August morning party would be about a different kind of fun -- fun of giving. Today, we decided to "tag" people with free car washes. First up were the signs. Taking all the art supplies and glitter and fancy colored pens, the kids sprawled all over the ground to create couple of large "Free Car Wash" signs; no matter how hard they tried to color inside the lines, these signs had "we are kids" written all over it. Soon enough, we gathered up the sponges, towels and soap and headed to the driveway. "Free Car Wash," we practiced our cheer on practically every car that drove by. To get our act together, though, we rolled in one of our own cars on the driveway. ... Read Full Story >>