Introducing Smile Decks!

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Dec 16, 2008
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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.

Posted by Nipun Mehta | | permalink

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Comments (8)

  • sheetal wrote ...

    love u guys... the whole world's just waiting to burst into smiles as soon as they get tagged!

  • Vaidehi wrote ...

    This is an amazing idea... I guess the activities mentioned are quite doable, which shall add to make this initiative really popular... However, i feel some activities with grand parents and younger siblings (Catg: People You Know) should be added specifically...

  • Rahul V. Chittella wrote ...

    yet another brilliant idea..!!:)
    I'm waiting to get my deck from Sachi!!:)

  • Sandee wrote ...


    donate  old clothing, purses and such to charity....slip a $5 bill or a $1 dollar bill in a pocket for someone random to find.


  • william young wrote ...

    I ordered a Smile Deck and gave a contribution several weeks ago. I have inquired twice about it, and both times I have been told it was being sent. I still haven't received it. Have you sent it?
    If so, to what address? How about adding some Smile Cards if you haven't.


  • Tulika Saha wrote ...

    Great idea! Could be started among school students. I can think a whole lot of things for them like putting your clothes in the wash basket after reaching home without being told to; buying something for your parents from your pocket money; greeting your classmates - those who may not be your friends and including them in your conversations......... and so on.....

  • Namrata wrote ...

    Say thank you to your parents and sibblngs for making your world soooo beautiful.... :)

  • Drashti wrote ...

    how about celebrating the birthday of all the kids in the orphanage on the same day..taking cakes, gifts and snacks for them...this could bring SMILE on their face atleast for a day..