November 8 2016 (Election Day)
Happiness is.. treating everybody you meet with equal kindness and respect. This political season has been wild, divisive, inappropriate, unprecedented, and at times complete madness. At the end of the day, however, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum and regardless of your beliefs and regardless even of who you voted for, you owe it to yourselves and to the people around you to be kind. The world has enough ugliness. Shine some light. I think we could use it.
Welcome to Day 2 of #JoyWeek2016.
When I talk about The Smile Project, the first thing I do is talk about kindness. Yes, it was founded on the idea of finding happiness and seeing something good in every day. And yes there is a huge emotional pull to this movement. But more than anything, I think The Smile Project represents kindness.
That’s where SPARK comes in. I was doing a public speaking engagement at a leadership conference in 2015, sharing the story of The Smile Project with a group of high schoolers. I was happy with the talk and afterwards found myself conversing with some of the students.
How can we get involved?
I didn’t have an answer.
I had never really thought about it, truthfully. The Smile Project had always been something I ran and that was it. It was just my little passion project. But that question hung with me for a while.
How can they get involved?
From this, SPARK clubs were born.
SPARK stands for Strengthening Positivity and Reinforcing Kindness. The idea is to “Start a Spark” of positivity and kindness in your community. SPARK clubs can be started at high schools, colleges, youth groups, Scouts troops, you name it – we can make it work.
These groups are encouraged to participate in Random Acts of Kindness. They act as an outreach team for The Smile Project. While they have my full support and are operating under The Smile Project name, they are self-run by the students who form them in their communities.
Currently, there are SPARK clubs at Westminster College, Slippery Rock University, and Pine Richland High School – all located in western Pennsylvania.
I am so incredibly proud of the work they are doing. To read more about some of their latest successes, click here. If you’re interested in learning how you can Start a Spark, please reach out. I have packets of information I would be happy to pass along – no commitment necessary.
When I realized Election Day was going to fall during Joy Week, I immediately knew that kindness had to be today’s pillar. There is a lot of nastiness in politics and I think it can very quickly turn people against one another. The world could always use more kindness – and now is no exception.
Do something kind for someone else. Better yet, do something kind for someone you disagree with.
Deep breath. And go.