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Jim E. Johnson

I am an author (The Path to Promotion), speaker, coach and executive living in NE Indiana. I am the co-founder of First Fridays Fort Wayne - a local leadership development networking forum.

How did S.M.I.L.Y. Start?

Years ago, my wife, Laurie, started telling me “so much I love you!” in a Pennsylvania sort of way (at least that’s what my mother would call it. And then she did something that kicked this affirmation up a notch.

She took a plastic practice golf ball and wrote S.M.I.L.Y. on it with a Sharpie, and then she hid it in a place that I would eventually find. Just a simply reminder of her love for me – in a fun way. Then she explained that I then had to hide it for her to find.

So began the surprise reminders of our love for each other. We’ve done this for years now. When I find a “S.M.I.L.Y. ball”, I smile. I know she loves me. She has brightened my day many, many times.

Don’t you want to feel this way? Don’t you think others want to experience this somehow?

That’s how this blog and challenge that I will be sharing all started.

There is too much hate, violence, tension, and stress in this world. Many people just keep their heads down and try to live life without any interference from those around them. Others seem to want to pick a fight. And others just fade into the background of life, invisible.

I would like to change that. I have challenged myself to break out of this dreary mold and start paying attention to people around me. I believe:

  • People need to be loved and appreciated.
  • People are desperate to know that someone believes they matter.
  • People can be kind to one another.
  • People can change our world – one act of love, kindness, appreciation at a time.

No, I’m not going to be hiding S.M.I.L.Y. balls around my community (although, that is not a bad idea!). But I’m going to be more intentional in expressing my love, kindness, and appreciation of others. So, I just created this:

I carry this token and this card with me. Actually, I carry more than just one of each. I keep them in my car. In my pocket. And when I see someone needing their spirit lifted, I will give them both. When I see someone who has demonstrated love and kindness, I will give them a token and this card.

Have you ever been in the drive-through lane at a coffee shop and the car in front of you paid for your drink? I have. I then would pay for the person behind me. Pay it forward. That’s the concept here.

You see someone doing something kind for someone else, give them a token and card. Why? To tell them that you “caught them in the act”. To say “thank you”. To encourage them to do it again.

That is the spirit of S.M.I.L.Y. To express love to one another. Not necessarily a romantic love, but a love that says “you matter, you make a difference”.

Do want to join me in this challenge? “Oh, I could never do this with a complete stranger!” you may be saying. I believe you can. You can take this one simple, random act of kindness and change someone’s day, week, year, life.

Follow this blog to be inspired. Share a story with me that demonstrates the best of humanity. I’d love to read about. You can share stories on our Facebook page. I can then share these great stories here on the site.

Look Out for One Another

I love stories like this!

“I was waiting in line to pay for my groceries while maintaining my 6ft distance. When this man cut in front of me. He didn’t appear to notice me. I didn’t say anything maintained my distance. When it was time for him to pay he reached in his back pocket and pulled out a small note pad. He forget his wallet. He looked a bit disappointed and embarrassed. I stepped up and told the cashier I would take care of his groceries. (Which consisted of Milk and Chocolate Chip Cookies) He was more then grateful. He thanked me and off he went. The cashier tells me. “He cut you off and you paid for his groceries.. Why??”

“I said, I hope that if one day my Dad forgets his wallet someone will step up and buy his Milk and Cookies” 🥛🍪

With all the negativity going on in the world..I thought it would be nice to share this moment.”

Do Something Nice

He came into the cafe one day asking me for some money. I looked at him and asked him “why don’t you have a job, you know nothing is given to me for free right? He said “Well, I have a lot of felonies and no one wants to hire me for that, so now I had to turn myself to the streets and get money the only way I know, stealing and asking for money. I was short staffed that day.”

So I asked him, “You want to work? I have a job for you!” His eyes opened wide and his smile made my day!!!! He said, “I’ll do anything for some food.”

So now for almost 2 weeks, he has been on time for his two-hour shift…. helping take out the trash, washing dishes, etc. Once I pay him guess what he does? He buys food from my restaurant (HE DECIDES TO PAY) because it makes him feel good!
He gets a discount!!!!!

Do something nice for someone today and don’t judge them just because they out there asking for money for we don’t know their situation… some deserve another shot. God gave me this blessing so why can’t I bless others?

Cesia Abigal

Take the Time to Love and Listen

A great story for sure:

“The elderly gentleman was seated in the booth directly across from my family as we ate dinner Saturday night at Eat’n Park in Belle Vernon. We really didn’t see him come in. But we did notice when our server, Dylan, dropped to one knee to look him eye-to-eye as he got ready to take his order. The man apologized for not hearing too well. He had forgotten to put in his hearing aids. He talked about how he lost his hearing during his time in the war. He was 91 years old with many stories to tell. Dylan patiently listened giving him his full attention.

Eventually the man apologized for talking so much. “I’m alone now,” he said, “and I don’t often have someone to talk to.” Dylan smiled and said he enjoyed listening. He then helped him figure out what to order and left to take it to the kitchen. It was a touching site. I wanted offer to pay for the man’s dinner, but before I could flag down Dylan, a man seated at a nearby booth asked Dylan to bring him his check. “Someone’s already taken care of it,” Dylan smiled. I guess we weren’t the only ones eavesdropping on the conversation.

After the man received his food Dylan came back to say he was on a break. He asked if he could sit with the gentleman as he ate. As we left the restaurant the two of them were conversing and many people seated nearby were smiling. It was a touching sight.

With all of the negative stories about our youth today this was a breath of fresh air. I wonder if I would have been as kind and attentive if I were the one working there. One thing’s for sure, if you are ever at Eat’n Park in Belle Vernon, ask for Dylan. If he’s your waiter you’re certain to get great service.”

Credit: Lisa Meilander