I have been waiting to share these two stories for months now - and since today is World Happiness Day, today is the day. Get ready.
Hilena was the very first person to say YES when I decided to create The Happiness Sprinkling Project. I ran my strange idea past her in the fall of 2012, and she immediately answered: I would love to do it. I would love to Sprinkle Happiness in Washington DC! (remember 2012 in DC?) We printed a set of Signs just for that, she and her team stayed outside holding Signs for hours. The rest is history.
Then, a year later, on her birthday, she did it again and this is that day’s magic that I want to share with you right now.
Two helpings of magic, actually.
Like I said, get ready.
Straight from Hilena's words.
Happiness Sprinkling Magic #1.
“I wanted to do nothing other than Sprinkle Happiness on my birthday. Therefore, on September 2, 2013, I hosted another Happiness Sprinkling in Washington D.C., at a busy intersection. My friends and I spread out to all four corners. It was a magical day. One of the Signs in the box was a handmade “Joy” sign. Although it was unusual to have a handwritten sign, I liked the message so I kept it out of the box. One of the Sprinklers decided to hold it at the northeast side of the intersection.
Midway through the event, a young man, he must have been mid 20s, approached us at our main station, where I had Signs displayed in the grass, under a tree. He stood there, reading the Signs and really taking all of the messages in slowly and deliberately. I approached with my favorite sign —Free Hugs— and said, “we are Sprinkling Happiness, would you like a free hug?” He accepted. He moved slowly and spoke softly. He then asked me to look at the Sign across the street, the handwritten sign that read “Joy.” He said that this was brother’s name and that day was the 5th anniversary of his passing. He felt that his brother had sent him a sign.
My heart sunk and it filled with joy at the same time."
Happiness Sprinkling Magic #2.
"Fast forward to the end of the Sprinkling. Just as it was getting dark and we were wrapping up, a man approached us. He looked a bit like a tough guy. I was still holding my favorite Sign, the Free Hugs Sign and offering hugs to every passerby. When this man approached, it was no different. Until I wrapped my arms around him … and, he melted. Totally melted in my arms and started weeping. When we released, he told us that he had been watching us from across the street and that the Signs had spoken to him.
He told us that we have no idea what these Signs had meant to him and that it was a sign from God. He specifically mentioned the “everything will be allright” sign (the one with the misspelling from the early days). Later that evening, Laura received a message from him, which she forwarded to me.
The message said that he had been going through weeks of hardship and that he had hit rock bottom on that day. Seeing the Signs had made a difference.
Fast forward again to two years later.
My friend Lennon who had been Sprinkling Happiness with us that day, was at a train station in DC, waiting for his train.
The train doors opened and a man jumped off and ran towards him. It was the man who had sent us that message, two years before! He had been riding the train and noticed Lennon (he is one of those people whose looks and energy is striking and therefore unforgettable) and decided to get off the train to talk with him.
He told Lennon that he remembered him from the event two years prior.
He told him that the we had saved his life that day because he had been going through a really rough time and that he was planning to commit suicide the day that he saw us."
So there we go. No money spent, no degree needed. Just a bit of our time and then trusting that Life will partner with us in putting us at the perfect exact place at the perfect exact time. Then opening our hearts and arms.
World Kindness Day sounds like both a big, sweet call to action and a potential free pass to be kind today and flip someone off tomorrow should they cut in front of us on the freeway. Sorta like handing out warm socks to homeless people on Christmas and then waiting another 364 days to pay attention with our eyes or with our hearts.
We can do better.
Because really, there are no days when Kindness does not work. There are no days when making eye contact, sharing a smile or lending a hand is not going to be in fashion.
And as I love to remind myself and whoever is willing to listen long enough: WE ALL HAVE THE POWER TO SPRINKLE HAPPINESS - or KINDNESS.