When I was 21 yrs old, I was dating a girl whose parent's friends were going through a divorce. They had a 6 year old daughter and unfortunately their separation was just before Christmas and we both knew how upset the little girl was. Her dad was not living in the house and wasn't planning on spending Christmas with them. So my girlfriend and I wrote little notes like, "On the first day of Christmas, my secret Santa gave to me...." and put a gift each night on their porch for the little girl. We started this about 2 weeks before Christmas. Well into the first week, my girlfriend's parents heard that someone was leaving gifts on the porch for this little girl and wondering who it was. Of course....we didn't. :) As we got closer to Christmas it was getting more difficult doing what we were doing without getting ... 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 >>
In the middle of lunch, we get a phone call. "Sir, I've got a special package for you." "Special package? Um, ok, I'll come down to get it." "This is for you," the slim, twenty-something guy says with a mischevious smile. "Who is it from?" "It's from an anonymous friend." Actually, in all my excitement I couldn't tell if he said "friend" or "friends" but it didn't matter. With radiant joy for having kind friends, I took a peek inside the box. "Thank you." The kid rushes off as if his 007 mission is accomplished. Inside the box -- guess what? T-shirts. Lots of them, I think about 25-30 of them. Each t-shirt had the same kind of "smile" written on it, the way each smile card has, and a happy face. ... Read Full Story >>
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 >>
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 >>
I was doing some last-minute shopping in a toy store and decided to look at Barbie dolls for my nieces. A nicely dressed little girl was excitedly looking through the Barbie dolls as well, with a roll of money clamped tightly in her little hand. When she came upon a Barbie she liked, she would turn and ask her father if she had enough money to buy it. He usually said "yes," but she would keep looking and keep going through their ritual of "do I have enough?" As she was looking, a little boy wandered in across the aisle and started sorting through the Pokemon toys. He was dressed neatly, but in clothes that were obviously rather worn, and wearing a jacket that was probably a couple of sizes too small. He too had money in his hand, but it looked to be no more than five dollars or so at ... Read Full Story >>
The Japanese man points to my airplane seat, right as I head to the bathroom. He didn't speak much English, so I just signal that I'll be back in couple minutes. When I return, we play charades to see if he wants to swap his aisle seat with my window seat. "Yes, yes," he says with a child-like glee. I am more than happy to oblige. My window shutter has been down for couple hours of the flight already and I am hardly planning on making any further use of it. Right before he changes seats, he folds his hands and bows as a gesture of gratitude. It's touching when someone is thankful for something that takes almost no effort on your part. Before he can even get settled in, he slides up the window shutter and curiously looks outside at the clouds. He's happy. I can just tell. And that he's happy, ... Read Full Story >>
Good day, I was recently traveling and bad weather had surrounded the airport, causing many flights to get canceled or delayed. I was sitting by the gate, having changed my flight to another one already and was watching the unfortunate airline rep at the gate counter. She was being bombarded by a number of people who seemed to assume that the poor weather, flight cancellations and everything else causing them grief was her fault and each one in turn laid all of their grief on her and I could see she was being pushed to the brink. A little ah-ha light bulb flashed in my mind and since I am apt to follow my instinct, I stood up and took my place in the line of people intent on sharing their bad day with her. I patiently waited my turn and when I was finally standing in front of her, her weary ... Read Full Story >>
We have many people in my area who walk everywhere. Today it was raining, and I had a thought. I would go to the dollar store, and buy a bunch of umbrellas. If I see someone walking in the rain, I could stop and give them an umbrella to use.
Once a year, I give my two children money. The only hitch is, they have to give it away. I give them each $100. They know it is a lot of money, so they are careful how they use it. It is their job to find out who in our community is doing things that they feel good about, and then decide who will get the money, and why. Giving away money, even if it is only ten or twenty dollars, is a tremendous way to learn about the positive work people are doing right in your own neighborhood. It makes us get out of our comfort zone, ask around, talk to people we wouldn’t normally talk to, and ask questions about what the problems are and what people are doing to make them better. Everyone wins. My kids learn about the community, about the power of giving, and people in ... Read Full Story >>
One afternoon, he discovered that if he tossed stones over his neighbor’s fence, he could create a crashing sound, the sound of breaking glass. So he would heave a stone and wait for the crash. Heave, crash. It was great fun and felt a little dangerous. He might get caught, after all, but that, to a small boy, was part of the excitement. As it happened, he did get caught. The man who lived next door came to his house and told his parents about the boy and the stones. ‘I would like Juan to come to my home so I can show him a few things,’ the man said, in a tone Juan found rather ominous. His parents, ashamed of and disappointed by their son’s behavior, readily sent their son to the neighbor’s house. Juan sheepishly followed the man into his house, through the back door, and out into the yard. ... 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 >>
In order for the character of a human being to reveal truly exceptional qualities, we must have the good fortune to observe its action over a long period of years. If this action is devoid of all selfishness, if the idea that directs it is one of unqualified generosity, if it is absolutely certain that it has not sought recompense anywhere, and if moreover it has left visible marks on the world, then we are unquestionably dealing with an unforgettable character. About forty years ago I went on a long hike, through hills absolutely unknown to tourists, in that very old region where the Alps penetrate into Provence. This region is bounded to the south-east and south by the middle course of the Durance, between Sisteron and Mirabeau; to the north by the upper course of the Drôme, from its source down to Die; to the west by the plains of Comtat ... Read Full Story >>
A reporter once asked a farmer to divulge the secret behind his corn, which won the state fair contest year after year. The farmer confessed it was all because he shared his seed with his neighbors.
"Why do you share your best seed corn with your neighbors when you're entering the same contest each year?" asked the reporter.
"Why sir," said the farmer, "Didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grew inferior corn, cross-pollination would steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbor do the same."
And so it is with other situations in our lives. Those who want to be successful must help their neighbors, friends, relatives to be successful.
Those who choose to live well must help others live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
Consumed by my loss, I didn’t notice the hardness of the pew where I sat. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend - my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense; I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me when my father died, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life. When Mother’s illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell to me, the twenty-seven-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her. I counted it as an honor. “What now, Lord?” I asked, sitting in the church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face ... Read Full Story >>
[ Original story, by David J. Pollay ] Sixteen years ago I learned an important life lesson, in the back of a New York City taxi cab. I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by mere inches! The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was actually friendly! So, I asked him, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and could've sent us to the hospital!" And this is when my taxi driver told me ... 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 >>
[by Jeremy Mercer, Ode, Nov 2007] One of the more romantic literary notions is that a book can change a person’s life. Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford, for instance, claims Walker Percy’s novel The Moviegoer made Ford the author he is today. Or a book can have more immediate consequences for people, such as my grade-school friend who read My Side of the Mountain and promptly ran away from home with nothing but a penknife and a ball of twine. If a book can change your life, a bookstore can utterly transform it. In my case, I found one, or perhaps it found me, at a critical juncture when I was turning my back on everything I had known. It was a damp January day in 2000 when I discovered the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. I had left my home in Canada a month earlier, having burned out in ... Read Full Story >>
It's been 18 years since I joined Volvo, a Swedish company. Working for them has proven to be an interesting experience. Any project here takes 2 years to be finalized, even if the idea is simple and brilliant. It's a rule. Globalize processes have caused in us (all over the world) a general sense of searching for immediate results. Therefore, we have come to posses a need to see immediate results. This contrasts greatly with the slow movements of the Swedish. They, on the other hand, debate, debate, debate, hold x quantity of meetings and work with a slowdown scheme. At the end, this always yields better results. Said in another words: 1. Sweden is about the size of San Pablo, a state in Brazil. 2. Sweden has 2 million inhabitants. 3. Stockholm, has 500,000 people. 4. Volvo, Escania, Ericsson, Electrolux, Nokia are some of its renowned companies. Volvo supplies the NASA. The first time I was ... Read Full Story >>
I hated closing. I'm a person who claims that I do not hate, but I hated closing. Period. And by that I mean the closing shift at Domino's. We close at 11pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends. And I HATED closing. I hated it because we close at 11pm, but people call late at night and then we have to clean up and do all the paperwork, etc. So, I never get to leave until 11:30-12:00. It got to the point where I didn't like customers who called after 10pm. That felt bad. I got bitter and angry inside. But alas, I decided I needed to change myself and little by little I developed a new attitude. Now when I go in to close, instead of saying we close at 11, but (wah-wah) I won't get to leave till 11:45 and I won't get home till 12:30, I simply say I work till midnight. Then, ... Read Full Story >>
There is a story that I want to share with you. It may not change your life, nor may it move you to tears. But there is a chance that it may touch that space in you from where the fountain of life springs from, in all of us. The place from where it all began. Where the entire history of mankind, of the universe, we can all feel inside of us - in the content of our souls. This was a few years back when I had left for the United States from India to study at a prominent college and then pursue a career. At a professional level one could say that I was well accomplished as a young woman in a foreign country. There were many physical comforts and privileges that money could buy. But somewhere, there was a strange kind of emptiness engulfing me all the time. There ... Read Full Story >>
Shopkeeper Tom Algie faced a dilemma over Christmas -- how to give himself and his three staff time off but without letting down his customers. So he came up with a solution to suit everyone: leaving the hardware store open with an honesty box. He left a note telling shoppers who came in on Boxing Day to serve themselves and then leave their payment in the box he had rigged up. Perhaps astonishingly, his plan worked. Trusting shopkeeper Tom Algie wanted a day off and left his DIY store open with a note and honesty box - and returned to find £187 inside When Mr Algie, 47, returned at 4.15pm to close up, he was delighted to find the shop in Settle, North Yorkshire, had taken £187.66 - and two euros. The father of two said: 'I didn't think twice about leaving the shop open. Settle is a lovely quiet ... Read Full Story >>
I'm an American who has lived in France for nearly 20 years. I've whined and complained with other Americans about how the French are unfriendly, cold, reserved, unavailable for friendship. I've had a hard time making a living here as a psychotherapist and healer and periodically blamed this also on the French. I live in Versailles and for the past 4 years the city has sponsored events for International Women's Day. Three years ago, I moved to a new neighborhood and felt an intense need to meet people so I went to the cinema night for women's day featuring the film with Charlize Theron called "North Country," a film about the first class action suite against sexual harrasement. I was excited about the possibility of finding a way to connect to French women through the discussion we would have after the film, perhaps to make friends, perhaps to get more work. Outside ... Read Full Story >>
A few months ago I posted a story about a woman struggling with alcoholism who reached out to me. I sent her a care pack full of smiles, encouraging words and some treats to help her out, along with a special letter I wrote to her. It has been almost 3 months and she is still doing great. She sends me updates and I send her encouraging notes. But, as I have said before, you never know how much something you say or do means to someone else. What happened next reminds me of how true that is. She read a story that another woman posted about being an alcoholic and how she needed to stop drinking, if only for her children. I read it too but she was quick to act. She e-mailed me and asked if I would put a "box of smiles" together for this woman and send ... Read Full Story >>
My wife called,"How long will you be with that newspaper? Will you come here and make your darling daughter eat her food?" I tossed the paper away and rushed to the scene. My only daughter Sindu looked frightened. Tears were welling up in her eyes. In front of her was a bowl filled to its brim with curd rice. Sindu is a nice child, quite intelligent for her age.She has just turned eight. She particularly detested curd rice. My mother and my wife are orthodox, and believe firmly in the 'cooling effects' of curd rice! I cleared my throat, and picked up the bowl. "Sindu, darling,why don't you take a few mouthful of this curd rice?Just for Dad's sake, dear." Sindu softened a bit, and wiped her tears with the back of her hands. "OK, Dad. I will eat - not just a few mouthfuls, but the whole lot of this. ... Read Full Story >>
We are a small town of less than 4,000 people in the mountains of Ecuador . Recently our new organic farmers cooperative started hosting one afternoon a week to exchange our produce and seeds among ourselves...no money changes hands. As of this past week we started to lay our stuff on wooden tables set in a portal on the main square, we hold hands around the table to give thanks to our ancestors who used to do this in ancient times in this country, and we pray in thanks, either out loud or silently according to each one's own spiritual beliefs. Then comes the fun... each person around the table tells and shows what she brought. Each one, in turn, goes around picking and taking what he NEEDS to either feed him/herself and family, and to add to their garden that which is missing. This last Thursday was one such day and some ... 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 >>
In New York, we are very occupied with getting from one place to another. On the way, imagine you encounter a tiny, cardboard skinned robot making its own way down the streets of New York City, asking for help. Would you help this lost little robot? Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal. Given their extreme vulnerability and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination. I set out on the first test with a video ... Read Full Story >>
California town decides to put kindness on the agenda By Susan Herendeen Wednesday, April 22, 2009 WATERFORD, Calif. — This little town in eastern Stanislaus County may be known for the orchards and dairies that dot its rolling hills, but this week city officials are reminding the 8,100 residents to pass on some good cheer by doing something thoughtful for a stranger, mentoring a youngster or simply being a good neighbor. Thanks to a push from the Waterford Ministerial Association, the city has declared "Random Acts of Kindness" week, which began Sunday and ends Saturday, at the close of a community clean-up day. City leaders may not find a cure for the ills of modern life, like road rage or bullying or the angry remarks that can demoralize a community. But they hope to remind people that kindness can turn strangers into friends. "It's a goodwill kind of thing, to draw attention to the fact ... Read Full Story >>
John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!' He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?" He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood, or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad ... Read Full Story >>