About a month ago I learned about “smile cards,” which can be found at www.helpothers.org. Smile cards are “an experiment in anonymous kindness,” as stated on each card. Each card, when used in the spirit intended, serves at least two immediate purposes. One, it becomes the physical marker of an event of anonymous kindness. This is important because, physically persisting, it can serve as the template for the perpetuation of the idea of itself: new acts of anonymous kindness. As an object carrying an explanation of itself, it also will serve as a reference point for the recipient of the anonymous act of kindness who, besides being grateful may well be befuddled. Anonymous acts of kindness verge on the incomprehensible to most of us in this culture. The mere idea remains a little shocking. Imagine how disorienting it might be to receive an anonymous act ... Read Full Story >>
I ran out of gas less than one block from the local gas station. While waiting in line to ask if they had a gas can I could use, I was watching the new cashier trainee. I was judging his appearance and demeanor: prison tattoos up his neck and down his arms, not making eye contact with the customers nor thanking anyone, insecure about what he was doing...
When my turn came and I asked if they had a gas can. The girl training him (who is familiar with me) said, "No, but we have one you can buy." I like to think that I live in a small town where everyone is able to help one another ... but sometimes not.
The new cashier, however, looked up at me and said, "I have one in the back of my truck you can use, if you'll bring it back."
I thanked him profusely. I was ashamed of how I had been judging and, at the same time, delighted that, once again, the universe had provided me with another lesson in kindness!
One day I went to work wearing this wooden necklace and earring set. One of my colleagues commented on the set and asked me if I would get the same exact set for her. "Absolutely," I said.
When I went to the store, I thought of another teacher who might like the set too and another who might like a wooden braclet that I saw. I took the items to work and gave each of them the item, when I saw them individually.
When I presented the item to each of them, they each wanted to know the cost, and I said it was no cost. It was so amazing to see the smile come to each of their faces when I gave them the item. I smiled too, as it made me feel good to see them smile and to have done something good.
I also learned a valuable lesson that value is not always measured in how expensive or how much or how little you pay for something -- these wooden items were purchased in a super dollar store.
There I was, a sole-parent, walking down the street. The week had been hard and today was full with bill paying and running errangs. As I walked the street, with my head down deep in thought, I noticed something unusual in the gutter. Moving towards the object, I realised it was a wallet. I picked it up and immediately looked up and around for the first time that day. The street was bare with only one shop -- Guidedogs for the Blind. Standing there, my first thought was that perhaps someone would return to claim the wallet. But after a while, I realized I needed to be proactive. I opened the wallet to find a name or some identification. While looking through it, I noticed something like $400, all neatly stacked in fifty dollar notes! I eventually found a name but no phone number or address. My only clue was ... Read Full Story >>
I know that the title is little curious. But the scary homeless man is even more curious. I have lived in Mayport Florida for about three years. Every day, leaving work, coming home and running errands, I pass this homeless man with two shopping baskets full of his treasures. Except for about 2-3 months of the year (and I'm not sure where he goes during that time), he is always around, never to be missed. Anyhow, the reason I call him a scary man is because my son and I are often together when we see this man and he's always talkin to him self and staring at people with an awkward look. He talks loud and much of what he says does not make sense. With his two carts filled to the top, he's there just talking away. It's intimidating. My wife and I are always talking about his misfortune and how ... Read Full Story >>
While eating lunch with my 4 year old daughter this afternoon at a fast food restaurant, i noticed an old man walking to the table with a cane. The manager kindly carried his food for him. During the meal I overheard the man tell a woman it was his birthday. So I whispered what I heard to my daughter. She loves when people have birthdays. I told her it was ok for her to wish him a happy birthday. He obviously was spending this special day alone. At first she was shy and decided against it. No problem. As I was emptying our tray into the trash she turned to him and quietly wished him a Happy Birthday. I could tell he was touched by the way he looked at her. I came up behind her and gave him my own wishes. He was grateful. As we walked away he called my daughter back ... Read Full Story >>
Another glorious Saturday afternoon in Central Park found six members of our Lemonade Brigade ready to collect more smiles and give out some just-because lemonade! Week one of our experiment in kindness went so well that we decided to set up our gift-economy lemonade stand at the exact same spot as we did last week. As usual, our blown-up smile card poster started drawing in the crowds before the lemonade was ready to be served. Pavitra has become a seasoned professional in the art of lemonade-making after just one week, and worked tirelessly to make sure the mouthwatering lemonade kept flowing. Ria, our 2.5-year-old Ambassador of Smiles, had on another one of her adorable outfits and this time came armed with a bubble-making gun to entertain the passersby – who could resist that? And the rest of us were brimming with energy and the anticipation of connecting ... Read Full Story >>
Today it was raining really hard. When I went to the grocery store, all of the Shopping Carts were dripping wet. I managed to find a paper towel and wipe it down and off I went to do my shopping.
I only picked up a few items and was on my way out of the store. As I walked out I noticed a Mom struggling as she came through the store doors with a baby in her arms. It was raining so hard outside she was running in. I quickly said she could use my cart as it was dry and she could put the baby in right away instead of looking for something to dry a cart off with. I just grabbed my bags of groceries out of the cart -- they were light -- and I ran off to my car without a cart. The mom was very grateful to me for helping her out.
I felt happy knowing I was able to offer her my shopping cart and was able to help her with her little baby.
Be on the look out for opportunities. They're everywhere, even when you're grocery shopping in the rain!
Many years ago, when I was in high school and working weekends to pay for the extras that my folks couldn't really afford (like a school ring, class trip, etc.), I lost my wallet. My old car required putting gas in the back (remember that?). I had prepaid and then put my wallet on the bumper, and drove off. I hadn't even had time to miss it when our phone rang and a man asked me if I had lost my wallet. I checked my purse and to my horror, I had. He asked me to tell him how much $$ was in it, and I told him. He then told me where to pickup my wallet. As I pulled into his driveway, I noticed his handicapped van and the ramp going up to the house. I was thinking that there is no way this man easily got out of his van ... Read Full Story >>
This week I felt I wanted to treat myself to some ‘beautician treatment’. I am house bound, so knew that I’d have to pay for the beautician to travel to our place, but that was okay by me, after all this was a treat. That day I had an appointment made, and was expecting at least a 2 week wait, but to my surprise, was told she’d be here at 3:30 that same day. She came by, and spent an hour with me, when she was finished, I handed her $50; $30 for treatment, $20 for petrol and traveling time. She turned to me, and handed me back the $20 and said ‘don’t worry about the travel’. I am unable to talk, so was left to convey my gratefulness and appreciation with my eyes and a warm smile. She politely left, smiling, but I didn’t feel satisfied. Did she really know how grateful I was ... Read Full Story >>
I have a black car and I live off a dirt road in a rural area. And you have no idea how frustrating it is to try to keep it clean! In fact, I have given up and now I enjoy the dust. On my car, I have 2 bumper stickers. One says: "Strive to be Extraordinary" and the other says, "Caution I Break for Elves, Fairies, Gnomes, Leprechauns, Unicorns, Dragons & Other invisible creatures that only I can see." While taking my Dad to the doctors in Baltimore, I sat in a lot of traffic. Through my rear view mirror, I noticed a lady smiling in her car behind me. In fact, not just smiling -- laughing! Then she tapped her passenger and pointed at the bumper sticker on my car. It was the passengers time to laugh. Since then, I noticed it happen a number of times. And it's a ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the drive-thru at Tim Hortons by my house and had just ordered a coffee and croissant. I waited to get to the window and they handed me my order and said it had been paid for already. I curiously asked, "Who paid for it?" And the girl said, "The woman ahead of you. She does it all the time for people. And all she asks me to tell you is 'pay it forward.'"
This made my entire day, and I made sure to tell everyone at work about it!
The next time I was in the same drive through, I paid for the person behind me. The best part about the whole thing was that I could spend the rest of the day imagining how that person felt. I know how good it made me feel, and it stuck with me.
You never know how someones day is going, and a small act like paying for a persons coffee can turn their entire day around.
I travel a fair amount for work, and almost every hotel room I stay in has at least one pen. If I pick it up even once to jot down a voice mail message or to scribble down a random idea that pops into my head, the pen usually ends up in my backpack and no matter how many times I have scolded myself to "LEAVE THE PENS" they somehow sneak home with me. A few years ago on a trip home I was waiting in line at the airport gate counter and the agent was frustrated because a customer had inadvertently walked off with her last pen. I opened up my backpack and sure enough there were 5 pens, so I handed over all five and said, "Keep the change!" She was so appreciative of the small gesture that I began packing 5 pens for every trip. The airline employees ... Read Full Story >>
I am visiting my oldest daughter and 2 grandsons in Coconut Grove, Miami Florida, and walking home from a wonderful lunch in the Grove with my 4 year old grandson on my head. Tonight is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion, my family is all together - life couldn't be better. I notice a shiny new cellphone lying on the curb, which someone had obviously dropped. We were a block away from the busy area of the Grove, and I thought for a moment - "If I leave it, someone could pick it up and not return it, or maybe the owner would return and retrace their steps to see where it might have dropped." On the other hand, I thought, "If I pick it up, for sure they will call and have their phone returned." So I picked it up, walked the half ... Read Full Story >>
"As I waited at a busy intersection in our city for the red light to change to green, I glanced left; seeing an elderly man groping about on the curb. He had fallen off of his motorized cart which had lurched a few yards ahead of him, and was crawling off the sidewalk onto the road to pick up his front basket ( which was now in the path of oncoming traffic). Without a second thought, I rushed over to help him to his feet, and although unsteady and shaken, I was able to walk him to his cart, and help him back onto the seat and reattach his basket. As he glanced up at me, he smiled and said, “Thank you.” I made sure that he was OK to continue on and then I returned to my car, which I had left at the intersection. Nobody was honking. They just stared at me. ... Read Full Story >>
I was sitting in the salon with my eyebrows bushy and badly needing a wax. The man tells me it'll be ten minutes. Ok, I'll be back I say. And I'm back in 10 and waiting patiently. Just then a lady walks in requesting the same service - an eyebrow wax. The man asks her if she wants to wait awhile. She laughs and responds, "Do I want to wait? No." She readies herself to turn around and leave. I speak up and ask if it's still 10 minutes for me? No, it will be 20 minutes for the new lady, your turn is now. What else can I do? I tell him "No, please give my turn to this lady and I'll come back tomorrow." He looks at me confused "That's what you want to do?" The lady thanks me and asks how did I know she had a blind ... Read Full Story >>
The other day I decided to teach my son about the power of small acts of kindness. He had won some lollies in a prize machine in the local supermarket, so I asked him if he would like to share his win with the next child that walks past. He was hesitant because he is a shy young man but said yes after I encouraged him a bit. A father and his child were nearby. I approached the father and asked if my son could give his daughter a lolly that he had won. The father looked at me sideways and was unsure what to say. I further explained how I was coaching my son about the power of kindness. Eventually he said it was okay. We approached his daughter ... who wouldn’t accept the lollies! She too was looking at us sideways with uncertainty! At this stage my son was rather ... Read Full Story >>
Last Christmas I was given a great gift.As I checked out at a local Walgreen's pharmacy, the teen cashier asked me, "Are you Mrs. Peres?" With a curious smile, I replied, "Yes." Then he asked me, "Do you remember me?" Being the joker I am, I looked at his tag and replied, "You're Josh." This young man's face brightened up with such a smile that I had to tell him the truth -- I did not remember him.
He continued to tell me that when he was about 5 years old he would sit with my daughter on the school bus. With a pause, he added, "You were the only person that waved at me each and everyday."
The minute he said that my heart sank and filled at the same time.
At first, I felt so very sad and wondered if his childhood was not a good one that a simple wave made his day. Then I filled with tears at the thought that that simple wave made him feel good and stayed with him all this time.
I was sooooo happy to be me at that moment and it was truly the best gift I received last year.
I was recently transfered from one department to another. So I decided to give a token of appreciation to my old boss. Then, I realized that I still have some smile cards and decided to make their day in a slightly more elaborate way. As a thank you for everything she had done, I made some jewelry for my old boss -- a beaded colors stones necklace! Then, I gave the secretary a gift as well -- a brown beaded necklace. And finally, the volunteer recruiter, a brown beaded bracelet and matching earrings. All ladies were so pleased and grateful that I made their day. The recruiter was so touched with the gesture that she now wants to incorporated the smile cards into the volunteer department, so other volunteers can do random acts of kindness too. I am so happy to have given the gifts to the ladies and attach the smile cards. Because ... Read Full Story >>
This week-end my husband and I are leaving on vacation to North Carolina ... As you well know, planning is essential including cleaning out the refrigerator of food that will go bad.
Yesterday morning, my daughter calls to check -in and mentioned she was going to McDonald's to get a breakfast burrito. I told her I had the items to make that in my refrigerator and I could make it for her. She said her daughter (my grandaughter) wanted pancakes. I said I had that too!
I invited my other daughter and her 3 girls as we ''cleaned'' out the refrigerator and it didn't cost them anything, plus I have less work to do! It was fun and everybody got their bellies full of burritoes, pancakes, sausage and fruit!
Plus I made it with LOVE! You can't get THAT at McDonalds!
I pulled into the gas station to fuel up. There was a guy there asking to wash windshields for a dollar. He was developmentally disabled. As he approached me, he compassionately said, "How are you today, maam? Are you having an awesome day? I sure am." His cheer was contagious.
He continued, "Can you help a guy out? I will wash your windshield the best its ever been washed?" I said, " Yes, please go ahead."
So, he washed them all including my mirrors and, they were sparkling clean.
I gave him two dollars and a Smile Card. He said "What is this card"? and I said, "It's a Smile Card and you have to to do something nice for someone today". He understood immediately. And then told me that he wanted god to bless me.
He made me smile. and, I guess since he made me smile and uplifted me, perhaps he had already paid it forward without even knowing it.
I've been holding on to a good bunch of Smile Cards for some time now and decided it was about time I started using them more often! Any opportunity I get, no matter how big or small I am going to do an act of kindness and encourage the pay-it-forward idea. The other day I attended a large business event. I was seated in a row of seats where all chairs were taken except for one chair next to me. It was the only good viewing spot left in the room. There were other chairs available, but they were a distance away and to the side of the room. A few minutes later, two young men stood near me gazing the auditorium for the best seats they could find. "How many seats do you need?" I inquired. "Two," one of them replied. I flashed back to my Smile Card resolution and immediately got up. "Here, you can my seat and the ... Read Full Story >>
We drove over to a friend's place to load up our car with boxes full of books. After driving a short distance, my husband realized that our rear tire was flat! After some labor to set up the tire change, I went over to the garage sale next door for some entertainment -- a teenager was doing tricks on a short bike in their yard. He was really good. While watching him, something caught my eye -- a beautiful blue painting with lots of fish and dolphins. "My little son would love that," I thought, considering that he had just seen dolphins in Sea World. Seeing my interest, the lady said, "A dollar for that." I looked at it again. It was surely worth more to me. So I gave her the two dollars I had and when she was surprised, I told her the buck would travel farther if she wants ... Read Full Story >>
In my town in South Asia, every third Wednesday there is a electric shut down from 9AM to 6PM.
Even thought we all knew about it, many of us would forget and not make the adjustments necessary to pull on without a day of electricity.
Well, one of our neighbors had this habit -- he used to call everyone at 7AM to remind us about the power shut down so that we can get things done before the 9AM deadline.
How kind he has been, all these years! Sometimes it is the simplest things in life that touch the soul.
At my son's school, the traffic is so hectic, they have a traffic director to help the parents get in and out of the school parking area safely.
Last week, I noticed how hot is was outside when I went to pick up my son. The traffic director was sweating!! It just so happened that I had packed an extra bottle of cold water before going to pick up my son.
As I handed the bottle of water out of the window to the traffic director (along with a smile card of course), the look on her face was absolutely priceless!! I kept looking back in my rear view mirror as I drove away, and as long as I could see her, she was still smiling! : )
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!
Since I joined this website last week, I was mulling about how to incorporate acts of kindness into my life as a regular practice. I was truly inspired! I am a massage therapist and have my own practice. What I decided to do is to no longer keep my tips; instead, I would use that money towards giving someone a free massage. For instance, I charge $75/hour. When there is $75 worth of tips given, I will offer someone in need -- who cannot afford the massage otherwise -- a free one. Well, no sooner had I hatched this plan that a client called me and said she had to cancel based on financial difficulties. Guess who got the freebee?!? The beautiful thing is that this woman just lost her father and is in a ... Read Full Story >>
Recently, when I was waiting at a taxi stand, I noticed a young man engrossed in polishing shoes. I decided to get my shoes polished as well and as I was paying him I noticed on his left-hand some sort of old marking. That took me back to 2001 when I had, at this very taxi stand, consoled a boy who had an injury on his hand.
The boy had told me that his step-mother had branded him with a hot iron because he had demanded more food. I had bought a chocolate for him and also two tins of shoe-polish and brushes because I was very supportive of his willingness to work and earn.
This time I paused just as I was about to pay him, looked deep into his eyes and asked him if he was Manoj. He raised his head, looked up at me and froze with moist eyes, refusing to accept my payment. I, too, couldn't control my tears. I admired and complimented Manoj for his continued efforts to be independent and hardworking. I was very glad to learn that he was attending night school after he finished polishing shoes everyday -- that he was continuing to work hard to achieve his dreams.
This happened to me years ago when I was a waitress, but I still remember this specific incident so vividly. As the end of the night was approaching, fifteen minutes before our restaurant closed, a gentleman came in. I was the unfortunate waitress who got to stay after closing to take his order and serve him his food. The customer was impeccably difficult was quite openly upset with how his food was prepared, slightly overdone, perhaps a medium rare when he had requested rare. He sent his order back twice. When it eventually arrived to his liking, he needed a pot of coffee brewed fresh. Meanwhile, my managers and our cooks were breathing down my neck, as they wanted the last customer of the day to finally leave so that we could close up shop and go home. At this point I was frustrated and tired. I had stayed 45 ... Read Full Story >>
They went on top of my dresser. About four weeks ago. Some went in the console of my car. A couple were swallowed up in my wallet which I'm quite certain still has my high school ID card. I'm 35. And there they stayed, all around me yet somehow completely hidden. Which, of course, they weren't. I just wasn't looking. I had forgotten to look. More truthfully, my "looking" had shifted from "how can I help?" to "what do I need?" I need more money. I need gas for my car. I need a job. I need some clothes. Some new running shoes. I need fulfillment, dammit! O, Happiness, where have you hid? Just when I am most in need, most lost, most miserable, you go and hide, Happiness! How dare you! I NEED these things, material and otherwise and they will deliver unto me joy, freedom, ease and happiness for all ... Read Full Story >>