Spreading A Little “Happy”

No one is more surprised than I am to see me back here in this space so quickly, but when inspiration strikes, it must be listened to.

It started with a post by blogger Pam from I Choose This. She wrote a post about doing Christmas Eve and Christmas Day a bit differently. It inspired me. I wanted to start the New Year doing something different, and I settled on the idea of spreading a little ‘happy’.

This was not a sophisticated plan by any stretch. My simple idea was to just visit my neighbours and nearby friends, ring their doorbells, and wish them a Happy New Year.

I cut up old Christmas cards to make little “Happy New Year” tags, bought a couple of dozen small white roses, and made individual bundles of 2 roses, each wrapped with red and gold ribbon.

Yesterday afternoon, Gilles and I distributed some of the little bundles to friends who lived close by – friends we have seen so little of during the past year – standing respectfully away from their doorway to offer our New Year’s greeting.

Good friends are always happy to see you, and this occasion was no exception. There were smiles, laughter, and hearty chatter all around.

Then this afternoon, I walked around the block to the various neighbours we know. I admit I had some serious misgivings about this plan. It’s embarrassing to admit we don’t really know our neighbours very well – in spite of living here for over 25 years.

The experience was an eye-opener.

Each time I rang a doorbell, I was initially met with an air of suspicion. It didn’t help that I was bundled up against the chilly wind and wearing a mask. Would you open your door to a set of eyes you didn’t recognize?

They did.

When they realized who I was, the reaction quickly changed to surprise, followed shortly after by sheer delight. The real surprise was mine – they ALL wanted to chat.

But it was one neighbour in particular who stands out.

She is a woman I don’t know well at all. Our exchanges over the years haven’t been much more than ‘hello’ … but when I handed her the 2 slightly frostbitten roses, she became quite emotional. This normally distant woman proceeded to tell me her father had passed away a few weeks ago and 2020 had been a horrible year for her family. She couldn’t say enough about how much she appreciated the gesture of ‘happy’ for the new year.

In her words – “I really needed this”.

I’m not writing this for any kind of kudos or pats on the back. This experience actually humbled me to the core. What started out as a silly bit of fun for ME to feel good, went off in a completely unexpected direction.

It was the sudden realization that we are all starving for even the smallest show of kindness – even if it’s just a random neighbour we barely know .

It was a reminder that our actions, even the small, seemingly insignificant things we say or do, leave ripples.

For this new year I send out a challenge to each of you – please make your ripples kind ones.

123 comments

  1. That’s just beautiful! I believe that neighbor really did need it. Don’t you find generosity has a greater potency lately? What a wonderful gift.
    The first year we lived here, I gave holiday cookies to some of our neighbors. (I have some I’ve never met in 7 years! — Never even seen!) and then on May Day I took some tussie mussies to a few fewer. Those neighbors are all gone now and I haven’t made much attempt to get to know the new. I don’t know if I feel badly about it, but if you don’t garden and you don’t have pets or kids, what on earth can I make small talk about? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Like

    • 2020 was full of lessons and certainly one of the biggest lessons for me was our human need for connection. These brief visits with my neighbours just reinforced the thought.

      Your comment about your 2nd visit around the neighbourhood on May Day gave me an idea that perhaps this should be a ‘regular’ thing. I had intended this to be a one-off event, but now I’m starting to reconsider.

      Thanks for the nudge ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Good friends are always happy to see you”

    What a great line and one that describes me seeing your post in my feed. Happy New Year, Joanne. So happy to see you here again.

    Like

  3. This is beautiful, Joanne. And so true. Small acts of kindness can count for so much. I am going to give you kudos because as a fellow introvert I know how hard it must have been to knock on unfamiliar doors and do what you did. I’m not sure I’d have the nerve.

    Like

    • Thanks Heather. And certainly Covid has changed things considerably. I wasn’t even sure if people would answer their doors.
      I guess it’s no coincidence then that the things we are most proud of are those things that were the hardest to do.

      Like

  4. As your virtual “neighbor,” I appreciated and needed this also. Just being an online observer of your in-person actions has brightened the beginning of this year for me. Thank you!

    Like

  5. How wonderful, Joanne! I must admit that I’d be extremely cautious to open the door to any kind of doorbell. We live a remote existence with just a few souls around and I’d be alarmed. But when I’d recognise you, I’d jump up and down. ๐Ÿ˜€ Much happiness to you in 2021, bringing it to others and fetching it for yourself.

    Like

  6. Oh, I love this story and I’m so glad you did this and posted. How wonderful. Make it a tradition ๐Ÿ˜‰ and make new friends ๐Ÿ˜€

    Like

  7. Hi Joanne, I visited Pamโ€™s blog just now and read her beautiful, positive post. Spreading a little โ€˜happyโ€™ is a wonderful way to begin the year. I can imagine how the experience was an eye-opener, especially this year. You remind me how you never know how one small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someoneโ€™s life. Like you say, โ€˜leave ripples.โ€™ A beautiful post, Joanne!โค๏ธ

    Like

    • It reminds me of the philosophy that whatever you send out into the universe comes back to you threefold. I certainly feel that – even now, 2 days later.

      Which makes me wonder … why then do we waste so much energy (and potential feel-good) by being angry at the world with its multitude of petty irritations?

      I think ‘kind ripples’ might be a good mantra to adopt for the new year โค๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You do deserve the kudos, Joanne. At least for being an inspiration. What a wonderful thing to do and lovely response. But of course that happened. Kindness is never wasted, and as we show kindness to others, it spreads and returns. The circle of community goes round and round. A wonderful wish for the new year. โค

    Like

    • That’s a great reminder, Diana – Kindness is never wasted. And strangely enough, the more you give, the more it grows.

      Let’s throw that stuff around with the carefree exuberance of children โค๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Joanne, Iโ€™m throwing this goodwill right back at you. An amazing gesture of neighborly love. So many people have remarked to me that they donโ€™t know their neighbors…. why not! Someone has to go first and itโ€™s not as scary as you think. Iโ€™ve been blessed with good neighbors that have become friends!
    Keep spreading the good cheer.

    Like

    • Thanks Judi. It is such a small and obvious thing and yet we all seem to resist making that first step. I won’t lie – it wasn’t easy – but the second time won’t be as hard ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  10. I simply love this. You, who are usually pushing yourself to challenge boundaries in the physical world, did the same in the realm of social interaction. And in a most wonderful and perfect way.

    What I also love about this is that you are reactivating old community habits – it fits with how you “did” Christmas – no gifts, just family and the important stuff. I see this as the same.

    What an inspiration you are!

    Like

    • Thanks Maggie โค๏ธ I’ve been such a hermit for the past year, withdrawing from the world for the most part.
      The way you have phrased this as challenging the boundaries of social interaction, and reactivating old community habits, has really made me stop and think. Yes. I think you’re on to something here and I really like it. This is truly the important stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Life lessons show up in the most unexpected ways. This was one for me … and the sad part is, I seem to have to keep learning this lesson over and over again.

      I hope you have many more reasons to keep smiling in this new year โค๏ธ

      Like

  11. What a delight, Joanne! I smiled all the way through it. Your kindness and generosity are certainly your passport to connecting with others. Wishing you a fabulous 2021. โค Terri & James

    Like

  12. This post brings such a wide smile to my face. Often we never know how much a moment can change someone’s day. This was such a beautiful thing to do to welcome in the New Year and its ripple effect will spread far. Here’s to a year of kindness. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

    • Thank you for accepting the challenge. We all need some way to make ourselves feel better right now, and as corny as it sounds, spreading the happy to others seems to work really well! It’s a magical formula ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  13. Am reading your heartwarming post before I start the day and it just makes me smile and feel happy! So your post is adding more happy and having a ripple effect.

    Itโ€™s so true that we often donโ€™t know our neighbors and can live side by side for years without anything more than a wave hello. In the good old days neighbors popped by or baked cookies to welcome newcomers. Your idea has the same nostalgic warmth by spreading a feeling of caring and kindness. Especially now. I love it… Doing something that made you feel good makes others feel good too!
    Peta

    Like

    • There’s a certain irony in here, Peta. If ever there was a year when we needed to keep distance between us, this one was it. And yet at the same time, if ever there was a need for human contact, this was it.

      What I didn’t expect was that spreading a little happy would make ME so ridiculously happy!!

      Like

  14. Dear Joanne,
    what a great idea. You inspired us. Siri ๐Ÿ™‚ and ๐Ÿ™‚ Selma thought it’s nor too late today and they went to our neighbours with little presents, pictures they painted and flowers.
    Thanks for giving us this idea.
    Happy and Healthy New Year
    The Fab Four of Cley
    ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is the most beautiful thing I read all year! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, spread the joy, kindness, and happiness. You made a difference, Joanne. If all of us could do this a little bit every day or week, the world would be a better place. It is amazing, the impact you can have and the joy (and humbleness) you feel when you touch one person in a positive way! I recently had this experience with my book. Itโ€™s worth more than any money (or any review)!

    Like

    • This is one of those win-win scenarios. Once we can get past the feelings of vulnerability to put ourselves ‘out there’, the end result is wonderful. Yes, the world would definitely be a better place if we all remembered to spread a bit of happy once in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a wonderful post. I am glad you followed your instinct and went forward with the plan and the writing. I would agree we all need more interaction even if it’s from a doorway.

    Like

    • Are you kidding?! I LOVED your decked-out bicycles and your neighbourhood tours.

      What sparks our ideas isn’t always obvious – I just acknowledged mine. Thank YOU!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  17. Little things make a big difference and even though we do it for others, they do us a lot of good, too. I hope a lot of people that read this extend themselves out of their safety zone to do something “happy” or something “kind” for others. Even if they do it for only one other person, it makes a big difference! Thank you for this bit of Happy!

    Like

  18. What a great post, goosebumps and all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Last week, I was returning from some dermatology office surgery and stopped for a coffee in drive through. I pulled up to the window to find out that the person in front of me had paid for my coffee. I was so touched and dumb founded that for a couple of seconds I probably just stared at the employee. Then I said, well then by all means I want to pay for the person behind me. I felt great the rest of the day. I think I need to go through drive through again tomorrow and spread some happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  19. I canโ€™t even tell you how much this post, and your idea of spreading a little happy, touched my heart. In a world filled with so much heaviness weighing on our hearts, you literally just made mine feel a wee bit lighter. Thank you for sharing this experience.๐Ÿค—โค๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lynn. If we can make the world even a tinier bit better, it’s worth the effort.

      Sometimes we make terrible errors in judgement and unintentionally hurt people … but sometimes when we’re really lucky, it’s the other way around and we spread a little bit of good. This story was all about the latter, and I’m truly humbled by it.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. That’s nice. We can never start to know our neighbors until we start talking to them. Sometimes they’re full of surprises. And sometimes they’re pleasant surprises.

    Like

  21. Joanne, your act of kindness brought tears to my eyes, especially the neighbor you barely know. A small gesture that turned out to be priceless. Years from now, when your neighbors can’t remember the color the roses were, they will remember you and how much they enjoyed your impromptu visit.

    You’ve ignited the inspiration flame in me! With the hope that Covid-19 will die, I hope you’ve started a pandemic of “Spreading A Little Happy”. I have a feeling you will be sharing more than a “hello” with these folks and these same neighbors will soon be your friends. I especially wish the woman who lost her dad a gentle healing process.

    You have a good heart Joanne. Happy 2021. You certainly started the new year off on the right foot.

    Many thanks for sharing this.

    Think positive. Test negative.

    Ginger

    Like

    • I think you’re right, Ginger. Based on the size of their smiles, I’m guessing that future greetings with my neighbours are likely going to be different in a good way๐Ÿ™‚ … the unexpected side effect!!

      Like

  22. Joanne–this is such a great thing you did. It is so personal and, in the woman who lost her husband’s case, so very much needed. I think the greetings between the both of you will be so much more than just ‘hello’ from now on. Good on you, girl! You know how to jumpstart a year!

    Like

  23. What a wonderful idea. I did something similar just before Christmas with plates of cookies but both my husband and I were thinking that we should do more for our neighbour next door. She’s a shut in and almost died a couple of years ago. She’s younger than us but doesn’t look after herself very well. We were so pleased that she was doing so well but we noticed that she’s going downhill again. I’ll have to think of something that we can do from a distance that she would like.

    Like

    • That’s so thoughtful of you to consider your neighbour. I realized this summer that the isolation was affecting people in different ways. Even diehard introverts were starting to fray around the edges.
      It reminds me of the old telephone long-distance commercials – “reach out and touch someone”.

      Like

  24. I really like this idea, Joanne. Since we moved here at the end of March (Covid really kicking in time) we haven’t really met that many neighbors and certainly not to have drinks or sit-down time with. I’ve been thinking about doing something to introduce us to the neighbors around us, but I’m not sure of the status of homemade goods these days, which would be my normal fallback. What I have been doing in the manner of kindness is sending postcards and greeting cards and even the occasional letter (what???) to friends throughout the year, even some overseas and the very occasional package. Who doesn’t like to get real mail? I’ve even gotten a few in return, but that’s not my aim. I just want to keep in contact and let people know they’re loved and appreciated.

    Happy New Year of kindness!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you Joanne! Iโ€™m grateful that we were on the receiving end of your ripple of happy. It was so nice to see you and Gilles at our front door yesterday. xo

    Like

    • I agree – the world needs more kindness. The truth is, I’m a little embarrassed because it wasn’t premeditated and in the end, I think I got way more out of this than I was expecting.

      I often talk about nature being balm for the soul. It seems I discovered another balm – and it’s so simple. Be kind.

      Like

  26. This is so true! I’ve had a terrible year (as have a lot of other people) but what I missed was the affirmation and encouragement I got from friends in person to make it easier. Zooming isn’t the same and neither is the phone call. Life is easier with friendship and caring. Random acts of kindness are the best and I haven’t seen a whole of them lately. You had a great idea!

    Like

    • I got so much more out of this simple little bit of fun than I intended. I just wanted the feel-good I would get from surprising people and making them smile. I never imagined I would be tapping into a well of human need. It turns out I was the one who was surprised.

      Like

  27. Oh Joanne I LOVE this idea! The reaction of the woman just shows that often we don’t know what is going on in other’s lives and how a small act can make an extraordinary difference. I think your post will be inspiring actions of kindness around the globe. I know you have certainly inspired me. XO

    Like

    • So very true, Sue. We really don’t know what’s going on in the lives around us and every once in a while we get a major reality check. This one was mine. It’s a reminder that I need to carry with me into the rest of this year. Hopefully other people will too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The happy just keeps on spreading ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad it gave you the happies too!

      I was thinking last night that my relationship with my neighbours may have been given a bit of a boost. Perhaps I’ve graduated beyond a simple hello. In hindsight, I should have realized that people are generally so wanting of human interaction right now.

      Yup, right now I’m feeling like the new year got off to a good start! Hope your’s is a happy one too โค๏ธ

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I love what you did. In particular I love the need you fulfilled with the woman that you hardly knew. What a wonderful story.

    Like

  29. So true, my friend! We never know what people are going through or how our actions, no matter how tiny and inconsequential (to us, at least), might impact someone. What I remember most about interactions with others is how they made me feel. A kind word or action can have a huge ripple effect, as youโ€™ve shown us. Brava! And Happy 2021!

    Deb

    Liked by 2 people

    • I truly don’t deserve kudos on this one. I can’t believe how many times I’ve had to learn this same lesson over and over again.

      It was discovering the naked need for human interaction that completely caught me off guard.

      …and it takes such little effort on our part …

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s