[I'm posting this on behalf of Mona and Bhumi, who sent me the following stories by email.]
On the back side of the Smile Card is a wonderful quote by Gandhi: "The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose." I had read this quote, but only realized its meaning when I actually put up a "Spreading Smiles" stall for our college festival.
Originally it was Bhumi, who regularly attends Awakin circles in Pune, who suggested that we create this stall and then everyone joined in -- for the purpose of spreading smiles , love and kindness anonymously without any expectations. Few of us sat together for a week and handcrafted many gifts like bookmarks, cards, pots, etc. with a thoughtful message or quote on it.
January 24th finally arrived! We were all very nervous when the stall launched. Will people be attracted to it? Four of us sat down and decided to write some acts of kindness. As we were writing, one of our batchmates came up and asked us about our stall and we asked her to write down some story for us.
This way, inspired by her, many other batch-mates joined in and the ripples started. People soon started writing 'things you are grateful for' and '5 things special about yourself' and so on. Everyone was so happy writing it down, and in just 10 minutes, they left feeling so much better. Surprisingly, we quickly got 30 notes ready to put up.
The big day started of with lots of excitement and anxiousness about how the day would proceed. First we thought that we would begin with 5 minutes of silence, and then a small reading. Then, we welcomed each of the coordinators with hand-made smile tags, paper caps (made from old newspapers), and sweets. We explained the entire concept of having this stall, and presented a 2 minute video, and concluded with a group hug!
By the time we were done setting it up, we already had curious friends waiting to know about the stall. As they visited the stall, we pinned them with handmade smile badges and then explained the concept of spreading smiles, after which people started tagging friends, unknown people, and everyone. Teachers were tagging students and vice versa.
Along with that, we also distributed Smile Deck cards with unique kindness ideas on each of them. Few people performed the tasks given to them and shared their experience with us, while others stayed at the stall and called their friends to join in! One girl got the card that asked her to greet 5 unknown people. She performed it so well and paid it forward to another girl who also did the same with great enthusiasm. Seeing this, we gifted them an envelope with small amount of money, explaining that the money was a gift from someone anonymous so they can do other acts of kindness.
In general, people were doing all kinds of things; some wrote quotes for their friends, some created handcrafted cards for their friends, some meditated for 10 minutes and the smiles kept on spreading on everyone's faces.
Most amazing experience was when we were tagged by our juniors with a plate of dessert and also a personalized card to thank us!
It was indeed a great time.
At the end, almost 400 gifts were distributed, as we interacted with 250 people just as our stall. And we're sure that many more ripples will be created. Karishma, our beautiful friend who spent the entire evening with us, tagged us with an amazing video of the event.
It was an amazing experience for all of us which gave us immense happiness and peace as we set about spreading smiles and kindness in the world.
If you were to ask me today, I would say: "The purpose of life is to be happy, to smile and to spread smiles."