Going For Smiles Story #6
I started Going For Smiles (and Happiness367 before it, in 2016, which you can read about here) so that handwritten smile cards could give everyone a chance to be kind to one another. This story contributes to the goal of gathering 5,000 shared-smile stories so we can prove that little gestures can have a butterfly-effect impact.
This is a story about passing along smiles to people who appear happy and teaches us that even “happy” people appreciate a smile. Sometimes a smile can unknowingly help a “happy” person who is secretly going through something. So, let’s share smiles with any person, rather than look for the “right” person.
I first met Padma (real names have been changed) and her two colleagues in Starbucks. I had only ever been in that shop twice before, and never after 5:30pm on a workday. But on that Wednesday, I had some time to spare after work and before an event, so Starbucks felt like the coziest place to pass the time. As I sat down, I heard laughter and joyous voices emanating from the three women sitting to my left. Even though it appeared as if their respective ages spanned a decade or two, all three were leaned in towards each other and conversing the way light-hearted young girls do. “What’s making them smile?” I wondered, happily.
About 15 minutes later, I noticed them starting to pack up. “Should I go and hand them this card?!” I wondered, while nervously fanning the air with GoingForSmiles card #100 — “A SMILE increases your FACE VALUE.” I sprang out of my seat just in time to catch them before they turned towards the door.
“Hi! I noticed you all were laughing and having a fun time, so I thought you may enjoy this smile card!”
“Well thank you! We just planned a weekend getaway!” responded one of the three ladies.
They all huddled together to read the card and collectively let out an “aww”. It was a relief to hear them all be so receptive!
“I write lots of cards like these and hand them out. This one’s #100, so it’s a special one!”
“And you have a very nice smile too,” said one of the ladies, who was standing squarely in front of me.
The woman who was standing to my left seemed like the motherly figure, and she extended her arms and asked,
“Can I give you a hug?!” We embraced and then we all parted with a “have a great evening” and shared smiles.
Even that short exchange was exhilarating enough… but then, two minutes later, they returned!
“We read the back of the card and realized, you really are genuinely wanting to make people smile!! That’s so nice! Can we take a picture with you? Is that okay?” Chloe asked, as Padma and Pearl arrived just a few steps later.
We all introduced ourselves first, then took a couple of selfies and settled in for a few minutes of conversation. I learned that Chloe, Pearl and Padma all work at a non-profit organization and spend their days helping others. Pearl frequently writes and leaves happy notes for people and does all sorts of acts of kindness. Padma teaches meditation to children and participates in spiritual retreats.
“My next spiritual retreat is this upcoming weekend… I hope I can find someone to share this smile with while I’m there.”
By Sunday I received a message from Padma (fortunately the four of us had exchanged emails when we met) with a photo of her and another woman holding GoingForSmiles Card #100. The caption was, “spreading smiles in Chicago”!!
As the story goes, Padma had seen Suzy during previous retreats but had not been formally introduced. When she saw Suzy again, she felt a desire to say hello to this young lady who appeared happy and open to conversation. After introductions and a few pleasantries were exchanged, Padma told Suzy, “I have something for you!” As expected, Suzy’s calm facial expression was replaced with surprise and confusion. “For me?” she asked, as Padma searched in her bag for the smile card that traveled with her from the Starbucks in New York City. Padma handed Suzy the card and shared the story of how she received the card a few days prior.
By the end of their conversation, Suzy expressed thanks to Padma for passing along the card to her and said something like, “This is reaching me at exactly the right time. No one really knows that I’m going through a bit of a rough patch, so I really appreciate you picking me to share this with.”
Padma and Suzy also exchanged numbers, and a few days later Suzy texted to express thanks and to say that has an upcoming trip to Florida and will look to pass it along to someone while she is there.
NYC → Chicago → Florida → ??
That is one well-traveled chain of shared smiles 😊
I hope you enjoyed Padma, Pearl, Chloe and Suzy’s story! You can expect many more, so please follow along to see what story we’ll share next!
Thank you to all the untold stories of kindness in the world. I hope our paths with cross one day! If you would like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . I hope you always find a reason to smile!