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I had intended for the letter H to put together something about hearts, and the history of how the shape we call the heart has absolutely nothing to do with the physical specimen.

It was a question that intrigued me, but as I did the research, I found that I had imagined a much more interesting progression than what really happened. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that in ancient times, likely only the embalmers knew what an actual heart looked like. The shape came first, which it seems was likely rooted in plants, although the history is murky at best.

I had been hoping for this long, intriguing timeline of symbols that changed and evolved and came to be the heart as we know it together, combined with an understanding of how that shape came to mean love and commitment.

So much for best laid plans.

And so, I present an alternative topic: helping hands.

I’m sort of glad the whole heart history thing didn’t work out though, because as much as I love hearts, I love even more the way in which we show them to others. We reveal our hearts through helping hands, through listening ears, through thoughtful words.

And that, it turns out, is what I really felt called to talk about today:

Helpers.

There are moments, if we turn on the nightly news, when it feels as if the world is crumbling all around us. We’ve all heard the saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” When that fatalistic mix of crime and disaster, mixed with a bit of sports and weather for good measure, become our lens upon society, it is easy to feel discouraged. In fact, it is a large reason I pretty much quit watching the news.

That is not to say that it’s anything new. I sometimes hear people say, “It’s all bad news today. The world’s so much worse than it was before.” I don’t believe it. Yes, there are awful things. And also, there have always been awful things. The bad news is: Fear-driven news has been a major part of telling the stories, for at least as long as there’s been television news. The good news is: Fear-driven news has been a major part of telling the stories, for at least as long as there’s been television news.

That means that things are not necessarily getting worse, but we can do something to shift the focus on the future. Because there’ve also always been thousands of good stories that go unreported everyday.

The best way that I know to change the conversation is to focus not on the symptoms of the problem at hand (over and over, with analysts examining every angle of what’s gone wrong), but too look at the root of it, and focus on how to solve it.

The conversation that’s missing is who’s doing something about it and how we can collectively raise the consciousness and awareness to empower people to become helpers. This method does not ignore the problem. It gives us an opportunity instead to acknowledge the problem and work through it. News through an alternative lens, one that is encouraging in that it is empowering.

Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, famously said:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”

Part of what I would like to do with Of Love + Light is take it a step further. Beyond identifying the helpers in times of disaster, I want to identify and celebrate the helpers who appear each and every day.

I want to tell the stories of amazing humans and organizations, doing their best everyday to create good in the world. In addition to the Daily Dose: Inspired posts, in the months ahead, I will be adding a section to the site called “Awesome Sauce,” featuring really cool people doing really cool things.

Between Daily Dose: Inspired and Awesome Sauce, I want to offer a place where you can come, stay a while, and leave feeling ready to conquer the world. (In the most non-imperialist sense of the word conquer, of course.)

I don’t buy into the idea of, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

For six years, I was a journalist for a local paper. Among the hundreds of stories that I wrote, the ones about people doing good, stepping up for their community, helping others, living in empathy, and bringing people together stand out the most.

And almost without exception, they were the stories that went the most viral locally, the ones that inspired the most comments and letters and emails, the ones that got people off their couch, and outside, ready to lend a helping hand.

There is absolutely no truth to the concept that news has to be bad to resonate or to get eyeballs.

Bad news cannot be ignored. Its impact cannot minimized.

However, if we want to improve society and human relations, if we want to empower people to live and leave a legacy, we need to shine a light on the helpers. Their light will lead. Their light will make a difference.

Everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, the richest to the poorest, of any religion, any nationality, any demographic at all, can be a helper. Everyone can make a difference in someone’s life.

I was recently listening to the radio or a podcast… I don’t remember what or who I was listening to (I really need to write these things down!), but the person being interviewed said that a special person in her life had said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “If you’re walking along and see something that needs to be done, and you ask yourself, ‘Well, who is in charge of that? That really needs to be taken care of,’ then the answer is immediately before you. The need that you see is the need that you can work to solve in that moment.”

I try to keep that in mind as I go about my days. When I catch myself mumbling in my head about something that’s wrong, I stop myself and say, “Okay, what can I do right now to take one step toward making this a little bit more right?”

Sometimes the answer is nothing—which can be hard, but eventually seeps into stories I tell, or organizations I support, or conversations I have, and evolves slowly into solution or at the very least awareness.

But sometimes the answer is a small, simple something. A drink for someone who’s thirsty. A smile for a stranger. An open door. A reassuring word. One less piece of plastic on the ground.

And the amazing thing is that when you start looking for the little tiny things you can do each day, when you frame your role as “helper,” no matter the situation, you find more moments of laughter and of authentic connection.

Human beings are wired to help others (and by others, I mean people, animals, the environment—any life around us). Lending a helping hand is scientifically proven to offer a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and connection—no matter what else is going on.

DO YOU KNOW AN AWESOME HELPER?

Please contact me! Sometime in the next couple of months, I’ll start featuring a person, organization, or business who is doing something great. It’ll be a weekly feature, presented in a journalistic manner or as a Q&A. Guest posts may be considered. All other posts will include an interview conducted over the phone or email (or in person if local).

I’m looking for people who inspire, uplift and empower! They can be artists, storytellers, entrepreneurs, athletes, students, teachers, scientists, volunteers… anyone pursuing their passion for good with a great story to tell.

Also, I want to take a moment to give a shoutout and express my gratitude to Karen of Profound Journey. Your comments always make my day, and *you are truly a helper* in welcoming Of Love + Light, embracing what I do, and affirming what I share. Your site, and the community you are building, are an example of everything I wrote about today. THANK YOU! 

ABOUT A TO Z CHALLENGE

This month, I am writing 26 posts starting with the letters A through Z, along with hundreds of other businesses and bloggers from around the world. I first ran into the A to Z Challenge many, many moons ago (circa 2011), when I was brand new to the online writing world. It was a great way to jumpstart my creative juices, and I had so much fun “meeting” men and women sharing what they love to do.

So when I opened Of Love + Light, I knew the A to Z Challenge would be the perfect complement to Daily Dose: Inspired. Enjoy!

ABOUT OF LOVE + LIGHT

Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.

Of Love + Light has infinite possibilities, and YOU are a huge part of what this will look like. Want to talk? Send me an email!

“Helping Hands Everywhere: Helpers Wanted” is part of the Daily Dose: Inspired series. Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!