LIFE

Paying it forward

All people have their own ideas of happiness. Around here, happiness is that feeling you get when you’re running completely late and somehow make it to class on time, or when you finally get to the front of the counter at Christian’s after waiting in line for what seems like an eternity. Take a step back from life around Grounds, and you will find even more.

I can’t claim to know the true meaning of happiness, but it is most certainly linked to kindness and compassion. Happy people radiate love. It’s not only the sincerity in their actions, but also their willingness and desire to give it out to everyone else, as if it’s about to burst inside of them. They can’t hold it in; yet, they want nothing in return. They pay it forward and kill people with kindness everyday.

We all know these people. Many times, it’s the person who holds the door open for us even when we’re still an awkward 15 feet from the entrance. Other times, it’s the acquaintance who remembers to ask us how our test went when we thought we barely mentioned it to them in passing. Then, sometimes, it’s the barista at the coffee shop who smiles and says “your coffee is on me today.” No matter which one it turns out to be, they always evoke the same reaction: a delightfully surprising swell of gratitude for their small kindness.

These encounters always leave me smiling to myself, wanting to concoct my own plan to pay it forward. It is as if these people woke up in the morning and thought, “I want to make your day better just because I can.”

This semester, I want to make their days better. For all those people who bring warmth and cheer to those monotonous, daily routines we often fall into, I want them to feel the same unforeseen, genuine love they give to us.

My friends and I have formed a group to do just that — we call it the Happiness Group.

Every week, we have a project. From sharing small, goofy pick-up lines to giving an old friend a call, we just want to make people smile a little bigger. Each person involved has planned to spearhead a project, no matter how small, and with the help of everyone involved that person will spend a week paying it forward in whatever form he or she chooses. We’ll spread kindness as a cohesive group. Then, after each week, we’re going to write about it — about anything and everything we see.

Whether we get confused looks, blank stares or big smiles, it is all for the better. If one person feels the effects of our intentions, the entire project will be worthwhile. We just wish to give back to all of those who have been kind to us and to share the love we have been given.

Our column will be online at www.cavalierdaily.com every week. It is our hope that you’ll read along with us, and, if you’re even moved to join us, we would love to have you. All you have to do is let us know you want to be involved by sending us an email at happiness@virginia.edu. No part of this effort is exclusive, and the more people we can touch the more fulfilling it will be — but we also welcome you to just look online to read our articles and get updates on our progress.

There was an old saying we had around my house as I was growing up. My dad began to say it a few years ago after my grandma passed away, and it served as a source of comfort to us. Now, this simple phrase is the inspiration for this project: “Never miss an opportunity to be kind.”


Published February 26, 2013 in Life







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