Why the World Needs More Love – And Love Letters (E24)

Strangers affect your happiness & you improve theirs too.


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by Amber Beam in Personal Development, Podcast
May 31, 2016

In episode 24 of The Art of Personal Growth Podcast, I explore the powerful impact that strangers have on our happiness – and the emotions we experience when we realize the impact we can have on the lives of strangers. With the help of several inspirational sources – an article and a TED talk – plus my Self-Help Crash Test Dummy Experiment, join me on a journey to learn about love, happiness, and “strangers.”

“No one is ever really a stranger. We cling to the belief that we share nothing with certain people. It’s rubbish. We have almost everything in common with everyone.”
– Mark Haddon

The Role Strangers Play in Your Happiness

In this week’s New & Noteworthy section, I spend time talking about an article by Art Markman, PhD, “Why Other People are the Key to Our Happiness.” In the article, Dr. Markman discusses research about happiness and our relationships with others. It’s no surprise that the studies highlighted all say that our connections with family and friends help improve our mood, sense of connection with others, and long-term happiness.

But what about the people we interact with occasionally? Do they impact our happiness too?

Citing research by sociologist Mark Granovetter, Dr. Markman discusses strong and weak ties; the former are friends, family, and close colleagues, whereas the latter are those people we interact with less frequently and less intimately, such as the barista at your favorite coffee shop or the cashier who rings up your groceries at the store.

Turns out, these people all have an impact on our happiness – even those classified as “weak” ties. Acquaintances and strangers who we cross paths with affect the way we feel about life and give us a sense we are a part of a larger community. They can definitely affect our mood and happiness!

Love Letters to Strangers

I was totally inspired by this week’s featured TED Talk by Hannah Brenchner, “Love Letters to Strangers,” and hope you are too. Hannah started writing love letters and leaving them for strangers to find during a difficult chapter in her own life, and the act sparked a global movement, The World Needs More Love Letters. She also wrote a memoir about the year she spent leaving letters, titled If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.

Taking a leaf from Hannah’s book, I decided to write several hand-written letters as part of my Self-Help Crash Test Dummy Experiment. I wrote one to Amy Rizzotto, my guest from episode 21, thanking her for joining me on this podcast and wishing her well in her business ventures and future. I also wrote to Hannah herself, thanking her for starting such a powerful movement.

Finally, I wrote a letter to a stranger, and left it in a book at the library. Writing the letter was quite emotional for me, and I want to share it with you in case you need to hear these words today too:

You are beautiful, talented, and kind. You make the world a more pleasant place, and while your kindness may go unrecognized it is not unnoticed. Continue to inspire and delight others, bring warmth to situations that lack it, and know that every day you are making a difference.

It turns out strangers not only affect our happiness – sharing love with strangers can help their happiness (and ours) too!

Sending Loving Kindness to Strangers Around the World

Finally, I spent some time in this week’s episode guiding listeners through a Loving Kindness Meditation. You can find more information about it from the Emotional Intelligence Institute, or join me around minute 13:50 in the episode to be guided in this meditation.

Together, these three resources helped me realize that the world really does need more love – and more love letters! I challenge you to write a handwritten letter this week.

It doesn’t have to be to a stranger, and it doesn’t have to be about romantic love. It’s just a test to see if you too feel a sense of vulnerability or deep connection with someone through the process, as I did. I hope you’ll report back on the experience so I can share your celebration with the community.

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks for joining me this week. I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave an honest review for The Art of Personal Growth podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful to tailoring the content of the show and I read them all! They also matter in the rankings of the show.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it on the social media! This week’s hashtags are #BeKindtoStrangers and #TAoPGP24.

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It's Time for a Better Career Change!

Don't Put Your Happiness on Hold!

Start Now!