Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Holiday Joy Experiment



I was trying to think of ways to spread peace and joy during the holidays, because it is SO not the most wonderful time of the year. I thought of giving gift cards to homeless people, but that doesn't really get to the heart of the problem. People are depressed. They're overwhelmed and anxious and lonely and freezing their butts off. And they are assaulted by piped-in Christmas music everywhere. A ten-dollar Target gift card isn't going to fix that. People need to remember that they are okay, they are loved, and that things will get better.

So I started writing down thoughts that are helpful to me. Half an hour later, I had 150 of them (and realized I've been reading too many self-help books). I put the sayings onto 300 cards, and then I thought, what the hell am I doing?

I'll be lynched, I thought. I'll be arrested for suspicious cheerfulness or creepy niceness.

People will take offense. They'll say: "You can't make me love myself, you asshole!" and "Get away from me, you New Age freak!" Perhaps, I thought, a mob will chase me out of town. It could be dangerous, but I was prepared to take the risk to do good.

The reality was surprisingly...calm.

At the tire shop, the cafe and the Laundromat, I was able to unload about forty uplifting thoughts. "Would you like a happy thought?" I'd say, and flourish a fan of colored cards. A few people politely declined. Everybody else was delighted.
There are still 260 cards to go. But I should be able to hand them all out by Christmas.