Making the World Happier, One Heart at a Timeby Christine Arylo on October 12, 2015 at 12:28 pm
If you asked people, “Would you like this world to be a better place? Would you like people to be happier?” most would say, “Of course.” But the notion of making this world a happier place is totally overwhelming. It makes us think we have to do something ‘big’ like solve world hunger, find a cure for cancer, or raise the next President. But that’s not actually true.
We have the power to make a big impact on the world just by our interactions with the people in our daily lives. “Big” world change doesn’t start with grand solutions, big shifts happen one heart at a time. You touch one person, they touch another, and they another and the domino effect does all the work. I experienced this first hand when I hit the streets of New York City with a team of people armed with 4000 flower bouquets — bright bunches of happiness — that we handed out to complete strangers. I have to be honest that walking up to busy NYC commuters at first felt a little daunting. People in big cities rushing to work don’t have the best reputation for being open to strangers approaching them. But I put my trust in what I’ve experienced as the super power of flowers — to instantly open hearts — and began my mission of kindness and happiness.
True to form, the buds did their job. There were a few people who were skeptical at first. They thought I was trying to sell them the flowers! So used to people wanting things from them, it didn’t even occur that someone would give them something just because, as an act of kindness from one human being to another. When I explained, “Today the Society of American Florists is ‘petaling it forward’ with random acts of kindness, giving flowers away to create more smiles and happiness for people, would you like some?” their outer force field instantly melted and they transformed before my eyes. Their faces and tone went from stressed and busy, to open and happy. They slowed down, connected with me and they smiled. Which made me smile! We had a mini happiness fest right there on the streets of Manhattan.
All morning I talked to strangers — some I approached and some that came running up to me inquiring what the flowers were about, and could they have some! As I explained that they received two bouquets — one to keep and one to give to someone who could use a boost of happiness — I received the most heart-opening stories about how they planned to petal it forward. Acts of kindness such as:
We just had layoffs at work and my co-worker is having a real hard time. These are for her.
The flowers are going to my boss, she does so much for me. I can’t wait to give these to her.
I am on my way to the dentist, and I’m giving these to my doctor. I’m hoping they’ll make my visit more gentle.
I live in an apartment building in the Bronx and I am going to give one stem to each of my neighbors.
I’m on my way to visit my friend in the hospital. This will really cheer her up.
I just arrived from France, is NYC always like this? (This one really made me smile!)
Even more amazing to watch were the people who turned right around and bestowed their extra bouquet on a complete stranger. Talk about positive reactions, from both the receiver and the giver! Everyone I talked to was so happy to hear that similar Petal It Forward efforts were taking place the same day in dozens of cities across the country and that they too could participate in petaling the smiles forward. I guess the adage “Don’t talk to strangers” doesn’t apply when you have bouquets of flowers in hand, on a mission to make the world happier, one heart at a time. Flowers really do have super powers.
Click here to learn more about Petal It Forward and follow #petalitforward on social media to experience the fun. And if that inspires you to give it a try, you too can experience flower power.
Will you petal it forward?