By Debbie McFarland
One thing we can all agree upon is that this has been a crazy year for everyone, but that just gives us more opportunities to spark others. What is a spark? A spark is a small act of kindness that can bring hope, not only to the recipient, but also to you. A tiny spark, lit by one person, can spread like a wildfire and can change the world with kindness and love.
Scientific evidence shows that when we do something kind or even witness a kind act, there’s a physical and emotional reaction. Our heart rate increases and we feel a warmness in the chest. Seeing, or even reading about, acts of kindness can not only make us better people, but it also increases the chance that we will do good works of our own.
Sparks of Kindness began here in Peachtree City as a Facebook group years ago during the Christmas season, but has since spread to over 40 countries. It was created to inspire people to change the world with kindness and bring hope in the smallest of ways, a little spark. It can be as simple as complimenting the cashier, leaving quarters on a gumball machine or bringing a cup of coffee to a coworker.
Hearts were lit on fire as the group quickly grew. People (Sparklers) wanted to do more and asked to keep the fire lit year-round and it’s been going ever since. Sparklers are encouraged to visit the file section for a list of ideas and to print cards that will encourage others to pay it forward. They inspire and motivate others to do something kind by humbly sharing what they have done with the group. There’s even a local Facebook group, Sparking Georgia, to share ways to help in our community, such as collecting for the homeless, providing gifts for sick children, helping families whose houses have burned down, or visiting nursing homes.
A spark can be either random or planned. Keeping our eyes and ears open, we’ll find random opportunities throughout the day. For example, when passing an elderly lady loading groceries into her car, stop to offer your assistance. When planning the week, think about where you’ll be going and how to deliberately make a difference. Surprise the car repair guys with a box of cookies. Write encouraging notes to leave at the grocery store. Leave a bottle of bubbles at the playground, quarters at the laundromat or pennies at the water fountain for wish making. Have the kids write notes on the sidewalk. Leave a little treat for your postal carrier or sanitation worker. Bring hot chocolate to the crossing guard. Write a note to a neighbor complimenting their holiday decorations. Leave a deck of cards or coloring book in the doctor’s waiting room.
There’s never been a time in our lives where so many people are struggling, so we can safely assume that each person we come into contact with is fighting their own battle, even if it appears they have it all together. This allows for countless times to spark each day. We can be the glimmer of light and hope that they might be desperately searching for. Upon leaving an encouraging note on the frozen dinners at the grocery store, I stood just far enough away to watch what might transpire. An elderly man with a cane walked slowly past searching for dinner, alone. He opened the case, picked up the card and looked around. Placing it back in the case, he started to walk away then turned back and retrieved the note, tucking it into his pocket. With a new-found pep in his step, he walked past me, smiled and said, “Good day!.” Yes… any day when we can put a smile on someone’s face is a good day.
Sparks can be done by everyone, young or old. It doesn’t matter what your religious or political beliefs are, your health or social status. Kindness creates community. It makes both people feel loved. This holiday season, just try it. It will uplift you even when you are down and give you an exhilarating thrill as a sneaky kindness spy. It will bring a smile to someone’s face. It will create a ripple effect and keep on going. Even a small ember can ignite a wildfire and the world needs our light. It needs your light.
A better world is possible, but it starts with you. It starts with me. Together, we can create a kinder, more loving world, one spark at a time. You can get more ideas and inspiration at Sparks of Kindness on Facebook.