Introducing Smile Decks!
Posted by Nipun Mehta on Dec 16, 2008
Early last year, four of us huddled around the kitchen counter of CF's Intergalactic Headquarters. Whether it was Adam's hour on the NYC streets of New York or it was Birju and Shephali's lemonade in Central Park, the spirit of the radical kindness was very much in the air. Somehow, the conversation veered towards an idea that Andrew and I had talked about at a stop-over in Seattle -- "Wouldn't it be cool if we had a deck of cards, each with its own unique idea?" "Yeah, then small groups could come together and everyone could just pick a card and step up the kindness." "Or people could pick up a new card everyday and keep their generosity muscles in shape."
Hearing that idea, Adam, Shephali and Birju stepped it up a couple notches. Now, each suit would be its own theme -- kindness towards yourself, for people you know, for strangers, and for our world. Not only that, the ideas would get harder as you progressed towards the Ace. And of course, we had to have the two wild-card jokers too!
After a whole lot of brainstorming, the original designer of the Smile Card (Michael-superstar-Chang), whipped up a seriously cool deck. In October, we had the first printed deck in our hands!
Since the deck is $5 each, it is unclear exactly how we will sustain this experiment ... but that's never stopped us before either. :) After distributing more than a 100 decks in grassroot ways, we've already received lots of word-of-mouth requests and had to setup an underground page to receive orders! Let's see what happens next. :)
If you're curious about what ideas made the initial cut (some changes might be coming), here they are:
|For People You Know||For Strangers||For Our World||For Yourself|
|Do the dishes...unasked!||Pay for the person behind you in line||Get lifelong bulbs for your house and another's house||Practice absolute silence for 15 minutes and just "be"|
|Vacuum the house||Give 3 people a hug for no reason||Give away reusable shopping bags||Smile! And say hello to 10 strangers|
|Help a family member with a chore unexpectedly||Lend an ear to a stranger for one hour||Clean up litter on your block||Give away one of your possessions RIGHT NOW|
|Take 10 minutes to write a song, poem, or note for a loved one||Tell a public service employee how valuable they are||Hug a tree in public, inspire another to do the same||Leave flowers on a stranger's doorstep and run|
|Express your gratitude - do a special dance for someone||Give a stranger a candy bar||Shut down unnecessary electricity use||Give away something important to you|
|Make a bagged lunch for a family member and slip a joke in it||Leave cookies in a public place, ask people to pay-it-forward!||Send a thank you card to a green business||Offer an inspiring reading to someone in the room|
|Give a favorite inspirational book of yours to a friend||Drop quarters in a laundry machine for the next person||Make and post signs for green ideas||Post a list of random kind acts in a public place|
|Leave chocolate on a co-workers desk||Play the role of doorman for 30 minutes||Tell someone you love them and why||Pay for a stranger's meal anonymously|
|Write positive notes about your whole family and leave them around the house||Create a "Take a penny, leave a penny" tray for a local store||Plant something in the ground that can grow :)||Learn a statement of gratitude in another language and share it|
|Share a couple inspirational stories from today's news||Call out 3 acts of kindness by others and thank them||Give a houseplant as a gift||High five 5 people|
|Use crayons to draw a picture for someone's refrigerator||Sing a cheerful song to a stranger walking on the street||Go to the nearest park and clean up as much as you can||Wear a red clown nose and "be" for 15 minutes|
|Write a thank you note to one of your teachers||Have an inspiring quote as your voicemail message for a week||Call an animal shelter and donate one item they need||Play sports with strangers in the park|
|Help a friend get over a fear||Pick a stranger, make him/her smile at any cost||Make a birdbath and place it on your windowsill||Make up a new word about kindness and spread it|
If you have other ideas to add in the mix, please do leave a comment here and we'd love to brainstorm it before our next printing.