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SmileBlog

Micro Acts of Service

Something I've noticed about life in United States is that the social dynamics create an unconducive environment, for the most part, to conduct service experiments and projects.

There are government agencies to handle just about everything, red tape, as well as a suspecting kind of consciousness. For example, if you were to bake cookies and leave it at somebody's door, the bomb squad might be called, right?

This makes it an uphill climb to engage communities on the grassroots level—and a source of frustration for people of a mind to do so.

It's why, in my opinion, the focus has to be on small — micro, even — and perhaps actions that don't specifically engage others. Service is not always about the doing of an action, but the awareness and love that powers it.

Here's an example.

I've been living in New York City for the past couple of weeks. You're on the go a lot and I often dip into coffee houses and the like, where you're always given a one use paper cup or bag.

Though guilty myself from time-to-time of disposing these items immediately, for the most part though, I hang on to my cups to reuse.

Just yesterday, I showed up at Dunkin' Donuts on Church Ave. in Flatbush, Brooklyn early in the morning, with an old cup and bag for the coffee and glazed donut I would order.

The lady that rang me up — who, I'm not stretching truth or judging to say, is dealing with a somewhat different kind of customer than me given the neighborhood — was flabbergasted that I took the time to think about reusing supplies.

It gave her a huge smile and she enthusiastically shared about it with her co-worker in her native language who smiled too in disbelief.

Then they gave me about a 50% discount on my order and said something like, "If everybody was like this, the world would be better."

I don't know about that, but I do know it doesn't feel right to throw away a cup when you can easily take it home, wash it, and reuse it.

(Another thing I like to do is clean up dirty toilet seats in public restrooms, specifically for the women who are hardest hit by this issue.)

That is the kind of micro focus we can employ in the US, when more grandiose experiments aren't easy to pull off. The result is the exact same. Internal fulfillment, smiles and magic, perhaps even some giving forward type ripple effects.