In the popular holiday movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” George Bailey is so down on his luck that he contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve. His small business is about to go under. He’s facing ridicule and scandal and jail time. But just as he’s about to make the jump, his guardian angel, Clarence, arrives and shows him what his life would be like if he had never been born. What we soon realize is that George Bailey touched so many lives without knowing it, as do we all.
My family is working to provide a digital form of Clarence. After my wife, Jill, died in 2016 from a texting-while-driving accident, I was left to navigate raising our four children under the age of 10. As a single parent, one of my biggest goals is making sure my children grow into beautiful, kind-hearted adults. As I watch my kids grow up in this new digital social world, I want to help provide them with the best tools possible. Through my research, I discovered that there are no digital tools to create and celebrate kindness.
That’s when my kids and I decided to create the free platform, AWESOME—a social networking game with a mission of having fun to do good. How does it work? Users create kindness challenges and invite their friends to participate and receive points. Users are awarded points when they share the kindness challenge to one social platform, like Twitter or Facebook. Each user’s profile ring changes colors as points accumulate and each new level is celebrated with an animated explosion. Users creating the most viral 30-day kindness challenges get gifts and prizes.
There’s no better feeling than being the recipient of an act of kindness. Someone helping to make your day just a little bit better when you least expect it is a wonderful feeling. Imagine having the person in front of you at the Starbuck’s drive-thru pay for your drink. That one kind act can change your whole day. And the ripple effect it causes are limitless.
Mother Teresa said, “Kind words are short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” You can perform acts of kindness anonymously…the effect on the giver is still powerful. The giver of kindness not only enjoys the understanding of the recipient being celebrated but the feeling of rewarding another is powerful. If you are feeling sad, mad, angry, depressed, I challenge you to do something nice for someone else. It can be as simple as saying hello to a stranger. I promise you’ll feel better!
I also believe that by doing something nice for others, you will begin to see a transformation in yourself. Getting sucked into the negative thought cycle is easy, especially this time of year. Catch yourself, acknowledge the thoughts and then make a move to a better frame of mind. Breathe. If you feel that powerful weight of anxiety or depression rearing its ugly head, let it come on and then let it go. Focus on the new tasks of good in your life, celebrating the amazingness awesomeness around you.
When you become that ripple effect of kindness, the people around you are in a better place because of you. Friendships, relationships, spouses, kids, pets all benefit because you made a choice to be kind. When you shine your light of kindness, others around you will enjoy and respond accordingly. When you do it as a group, family or couple, you will begin to see a difference in your surroundings.
Let’s make the world more awesome together.