Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Introducing Smile Decks!

Originally written by Nipun on the CharityFocus blog:



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.

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