Let’s face it, there has been a lot of bad news lately, from natural disasters and devastation to tragic events that make people question their faith in humanity. The country needed a bright spot, and today – even though the weather forecast brought rain and clouds to many parts – the sun was shining in peoples’ hearts, thanks to a movement called Petal It Forward.

The concept? Floral industry members — from Maine to Florida, and California to Oregon to Alaska, and everywhere in between — took to the streets of their communities to randomly surprise people with flowers. Lucky flower recipients in more than 465 cities in all 50 states received two bouquets – one to keep, and one to share, with a loved one, colleague or even a complete stranger. This idea came from survey findings that show that while 80 percent of people say receiving flowers makes them happy, 88 percent say giving flowers makes them happy. So we wanted them to feel appreciated and loved, and to also experience what it feels like to create that delight for someone else. Happy smiles, joyful tears, and grateful hugs ensued and peoples’ days were turned around, feeling that true human connection that comes from a random gesture of kindness.

As an industry, we know the power of the product that we work with day in and day out, but that true power is actually scientifically proven. A study by Rutgers University shows that a gift of flowers creates instant delight and boosts moods. Another study from Harvard shows that the presence of flowers eases worry and anxiety, and makes people feel more compassionate towards others. This video embodies that beautifully.

Lots of #petalitforward stories have been shared on social media that illustrate the research, and this one from a flower recipient articulates the sentiment better than we could ever describe:

Despite all the stuff happening in the world lately, there is hope. Today, a friend and I were sitting outside Riverwalk Café and were approached by a woman who was giving away sunflowers as a gift for a movement titled #petalitforward. I’m grateful to be in a place where hope abounds and life flourishes. I’m grateful to have the capacity to show up in ways that are special and to give time. It’s a gift, and I’m even more grateful for the Giver. This is as good as it gets.

You can see more stories of peoples’ experiences here.

What can we learn from an effort like Petal It Forward? That it only takes a very small act of kindness to turn someone’s day around. Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.