Stories of Kindness from Around the World

My Simple Smile Card Story


--by Richard, posted Jan 18, 2008

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 of kindness oneself! It could be both discombobulating and bejooberating at the same time! It’s easy to see how one would need to look again at the card to double-check on what just happened. And on the back of each card, the explanation is there: “someone reached out to you with an anonymous act of kindness. Now it’s your turn to do the same. Do something nice for someone, leave this card behind, and keep the spirit going.”

Ten minutes after putting the card in your pocket you’d start doubting what happened. Did that really happen to me? And you’d reach in your pocket and pull out the smile card to read it again.

And so, out of the confusion, the gratitude, the disorientation any act of anonymous kindness is likely to induce, each card remains as the gentle, orienting reminder to the recipient of what happened. Thus it points toward a realignment, perhaps the beginning of a new attitude, one of greater alertness to whatever is taking place around one, especially with regard to others.

Smile cards came into my life about a month ago. The act that made me aware that the idea of the smile card had sunk in a little might seem trivial. Driving up to a stoplight, as I passed by a driver, I noticed he suddenly realized he needed to get over into my lane. But it was too late. I watched to see if he could get in behind me, but the driver behind me refused to make space. So he was stuck in the wrong lane beside me waiting at the red light. I reached out my window and made a hand signal: cross over in front of me when the light changes. He did and waved his thanks. A few minutes later, I noticed that I had a smile on my face, and I hadn’t even used one of the smile cards I had in my shirt pocket!

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Readers Comments

brighteyes wrote: Once to get your first taste of sharing kindness and your first card, you are ever vigilant for the next kindness opportunity...the same goes for smiling...making someone else smile makes us feel good and so we want to continue and so on.... Smile card sometimes whisper in my pocket or purse begging to be given away so I keep my eyes and ears open....
cabbage wrote: What a great thing to do---just letting a driver in spreads goodwill and makes people feel calmer. The best uses of smile cards (and the idea) don't require money!
Keep passing on those smiles :-)
smoothsugardoll wrote: smiles can do wonders to others and yourself , they can come on our face any ole place
but don't leave them up on a shelf.
akbj wrote: Thank you for sharing that story, it's like a "traffic smile", to let someone in front of you. People do that for me sometimes, & I'd begun noticing that I was impatient as a driver, so I started paying more attention to people trying to get out onto a busy road, or needing to change lanes, & letting them in front of me. It changes my whole trip, makes me feel good, & hopefully the other driver will do the same thing. What goes around comes around. Your thinking about the smile cards is appreciated. Thank you for sharing.
Fabian wrote: Love thy neighbour! a smile cost's nothing!
jain wrote: well done keep it up
sathsath wrote: a kind of reassursane that goodness in human is intact,will always be.Alas,in modern times many regard act of kindness as out fashioned, cc,so on.Once they expierence kindness on themselves,the dice of goodness games starts.

WELL,UNSTOPPINGLY.
tambu wrote: Thanks for passing on the love, Richard!
Aurelia wrote: That's Wonderful. Hopefully on his way his was patient and kind to the other drivers on the road. Road Rage is so dangerous!!! Good job RIchard. The ripple effect as natural as it could get.
Rats wrote: Good going!!!
All the best for future.SMILE....

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