I was invited to a bookstore for a “meet ‘n greet” and to sign some books. As an experiment in creating joy (or so I hoped!), I brought two dozen pink and yellow roses with me to the store.
I had decided that I would give single roses to people I met in the store and invite them to pass the flowers along to someone else, to brighten that person’s day. (This is one of the very simple “love gestures” I suggest in my book – “Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life.”)
Before I even handed out any roses I was filled with such a sense of profound joy.
You know what I mean?
Have you ever felt that “zip-a-dee-doo-dah” uplift of energy when you were in the midst of planning a surprise for someone?
That’s what this felt like.
I walked into the store with my arms full of colorful flowers and already the afternoon felt different. It was special.
I could stop this article right here and simply let that be the message, right?
Because without doing anything else, we can raise our energy and our capacity for joy simply by planning and executing something joyful for someone else. Before that person even has an inkling that some love is coming their way, we are filling our own well of love!
But of course, the story seldom ends there.
It usually gets better.
In this case, I spent a couple hours at the bookstore and gave away all 24 roses. With every rose I gave away, I got more happiness.
I gave away; my happiness increased. I gave away; my giddiness increased. I gave away; my cup of love filled up.
When I would see a child come into the store with an adult, I would find a time to whisper to that child, “Is that your parent or a relative?” Usually they would shyly say, “Yes!” I’d add, “Would you want to give your mom (your dad…your auntie) a flower?”
One hundred percent of the time the children would smile broadly and nod yes. So, I’d let them pick a pink or yellow flower and then I’d go back to my book table where I could watch the fun happen.
I’d see the child excitedly or shyly hand the flower to their person. And the child’s face would light up with glee. Then, their person’s face would light up. It was marvelous! Such an easy way to nurture relationships and stir up a little happiness.
I tried the same thing with adults. If I saw two adults come in to the store, I would approach one of them once they separated. “Is that your wife/husband/friend/daughter?” (I’d make a guess and usually got it right!) I’d then ask if they wanted to give that person a rose – “no charge and no strings attached.”
In these cases, usually half of the adults would take me up on the offer. The rest skittered away quickly, likely feeling shy, busy or cynical.
Oh, but again: the joy when I watched the connections happen. I loved seeing an elderly gentleman pick out a pink rose because his wife had on a shirt with pink flowers on it. It was delightful to see a father choose a yellow rose for his daughter – and to see her grin when he handed it to her. I smiled when a collegiate young woman surprised her Grandma with a rose after that Grandma bought her some books.
So, here’s the thing: this is something that YOU can do to brighten up people’s lives.
It is likely that there is a flower stand or florist somewhere close by. Most grocery stores also sell flowers. If you’re really lucky, you grow your own flowers.
You can take a single flower to the dry cleaner and give it to the clerk when you pick up your cleaning. You can take a single flower to your mom, auntie or BFF. You can buy a bunch of sunflowers and hand them out to your neighbors when you take a walk.
If you are feeling really brave, you can try a hand at giving flowers away to strangers you meet at cafes, libraries or on the streets. What is there to lose? Yes, you may feel vulnerable. But I can tell you, it is worth it for the one person whose face lights up.
And here’s what else you have to gain. This is a favorite quote of mine, attributed to Hada Bejar: “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”
Yep, the more you give, the happier you are.
(And you will smell like roses!)
Try it…and let me know how it goes, okay?!