Random acts of kindness are a wonderful gesture, for both the receiver and the giver. Showing care and compassion for someone, or feeling cared for by someone can turn our day around, and even change our perspective. Can you imagine being able to experience both in one day? That’s just what more than 100,000 people across the country got to do today.

Through an effort called Petal It Forward, florists in more than 400 cities blanketed the streets of their local communities spreading joy to unsuspecting passersby by giving two bouquets to each person – one to keep, and one to give to a friend, family member, colleague, or even a stranger. This nationwide random act of kindness, organized by the Society of American Florists, was designed to help people start their day with more smiles and less stress, illustrating new research from the University of North Florida (UNF) that shows living with flowers reduces stress.

Petal It Forward is the floral industry’s way of giving back. The need for mood-boosting gestures is especially timely, considering these recent stats on stress: 68 percent of Americans experience stress weekly, and 32 percent report feeling stressed daily. Women are even more affected, with 25 percent reporting feeling stress multiple times a day. Through the positive effects of flowers, we wanted to make someone’s day brighter, and provide a much-needed moment of calm amidst the hectic pace of life.

While the findings on stress are new, Petal It Forward has been happening once a year since 2015, thanks to the generosity of flower growers, wholesalers and florists. The original idea behind the ‘keep one, share one’ concept came after looking at statistics that showed while 80 percent of people reported receiving flowers makes them happy, even more (88 percent) said that giving flowers makes them happy. We wanted to give people the chance to experience both.

Giving flowers is a gesture of connection. One that can bring people – even strangers – closer together. That’s exactly what we saw today, through the smiles, hugs, tears, and expressions of affirmation. And isn’t that what random acts of kindness are all about?”