interview: Isolde Hilt
We discovered Make Someone Happy on Instagram last year. It’s a family business from Rhode Island, USA, that encourages people to make others happy. Even small gestures of attention can make so much of a difference. We have already shared the first stories in which someone has made others happy.
Now we would like to expand our cooperation further, among other things to show that we people are not so different from each other – no matter which country we live in. Even if we only provide small moments of joy through our good news about „Make Someone Happy“, they accomplish a whole lot taken together. And if one or the other gets inspired by it, it can also become something really big.
Gina DiChiaro Dodd and I had the unique opportunity to meet in person in Boston. We would like to sow seeds for a more loving and attentive togetherness. The beginning has been made.
It‘s so lovely that now we meet each other in person.
It’s amazing to me!
We want to start to enforce our cooperation. When you and your family started with Make Someone Happy, there was already a lot you can do to make the world a better place. What was your intention and the intention of your family?
Our intention was to really counteract the negativity in the world by encouraging people to do small things for each other every day as a practice to change the course of things. And we were inspired by Carmine, my dad, who did this as a regular practice by singing a song to someone he didn’t even know, making a funny joke, giving a small little gift … These little things like snacks, potato chips and pretzels that he sold for his company. Nothing that costs money, very much from the heart instead of from the purse. And we understood how unique my dad was. We wanted to keep that movement going with the faith and believe that it can really make a difference in the world and make a difference in people’s lives.
And now, a few years later, we have to experience that the problems have been increasing very quickly and are becoming more threatening. Do you think we are still able to change the world? Is a smile, a hug enough to change the world?
Yes. I think it’s actually more important now, more effective, because people need it. They are thirsty for that love from others. And when you feel there is no hope and when you see the harm that’s happening in the world … When you see that spark, when somebody is kind to someone and helps somebody and gives them that little bit of hope, that there is good in the world and there is somebody watching out for them, I think that is actually more important, actually more possible – even now.
And even when you are looking at the worst things in the world or looking at 9/11 in New York City, there are so many, beautiful stories, that came out of that horrificness … People that came together, that helped each other. And that showed really the beautiful sight of humanity. That came out – the communality that we had, the common thread of warning to help and loving each other. It showed the worst of evil, and it showed the highest level of good and love. Both at the same time. I absolutely do believe that we can make a big difference in the world.
In your opinion what does the world need the most of right now?
I think that we are very divided. And we feel the resistance on two sides of an issue … I think it’s important for us to understand that we need to counteract that notion that we are divided and find a common thread. What do we have in common versus what do we have that is different and opposing? So maybe start there and say: Ok, what is your goal?
We all want peace. How do we achieve it? Maybe it’s a little bit of a different thought process, but let’s find those things we have in common so that we can really bridge that gap and stop the fighting. Families are divided now with the Covid pandemic. One part of the family feels one way, another feels another way.
So several things are happening in the world right now, there are differences of opinion … I think, let’s write down what we know right now that we are both believing and start from there.
How can we bring people together again? What do you think?
I think we have to make a real effort to look at both sides to learn and to remember that we are empathetic and to bring out that part of ourselves that is empathetic and say: Ok, let me walk in that person’s shoes. Let me understand why that person feels that way, what is their life experience, what are they exposing themselves to. Let me understand and say: Ok, I want to see both sides, so that I can understand. Maybe I still have my opinion, but I understand why you would feel that way. Maybe they can do the same thing to you. And there is more of coming together instead of „I’m staying on my side, you’re staying on your side and we are not going to ever agree …!“
We are all good people. I think that most people are inherently good. We must not lose our humanity. So let us remember that we are human beings, we come from God, we are inherently good … We do make mistakes, but if we can understand and get in touch with the good part of ourselves and try to nurture that and continue to sort of exercise that muscle – to help ourselves and others on a regular basis and to keep that in top of mind every single day – I think it will make a very big difference.
… And I guess we must remember that we can only survive together.
Yes, that is very true. People that reach out to others and really change things like for example Mother Teresa: She changed so many lives. And she encouraged others to do it. Or Princess Diana when she shook the hand of the man with aids. People were so afraid to touch somebody with aids. Diana had all the money in the world. If she gave that particular man a million dollars or the aids foundation two or ten million, it would have made much less of a difference than her touching and putting her hand out, which costs nothing, but made a much bigger difference in the world and how we perceived and misperceived things. I feel as though, most of the time things that make the bigger difference are actually not involving lots of money. It’s about the humanity of it all.
And you were talking about one important thing: listening to each other again. Don’t always talk about yourself straight away und try to change the other person’s opinion but listen first. And in this way, your counterpart can also open himself, open his heart. I guess it’s one of the most important keys: listening again first.
I agree with you, yes!
And what can we do – Make Someone Happy and good news for you – or cause with our work? What do you think?
I think that we continue to share stories from across the Atlantic. Things that are happening here and are happening in your country and showing that we‘re really one small world. We are not too far away from each other. And human beings are human beings, whether something is happening in your country or our country. There is just some distance between us, but there is really no difference other than those miles.
And I think that we lost our sense of humor. My dad loved to tell jokes, funny stories and he loved to sing. We lost our lightheartedness. And I think our two companies can bring more of that to others by sharing those funny or silly jokes. Just keeping things light because we are in a heavy time right now. As hard as it was, my dad kept things light. It’s amazing that power of laughter. So, I think that’s one part of that …
We are doing things together. Your website now is very generously talking, has a link to our website and we are going to be doing the same thing on our site as well. That’s one step, sharing stories. We are thinking about doing a podcast coming up. There are other tools that we can use to spread the good – sharing stories and inspiring others like the one of a policeman who bought shoes and socks for a homeless man with his own money.
There are two questions I don’t want to forget … So many people are afraid or confused because of the war in the Ukraine or also because of other wars in other countries. So is it still allowed to laugh?
I think it’s necessary. With respect … After 9/11 there were some comedy shows that were afraid to do that, afraid to laugh, to do comedy, but the country needed it. People needed it. It’s the spirit of people that needed to rise – as long as it is done in an appropriate and respectful way. Our souls and our spirits are made to be light. And I think that helps with healing.
9/11 is perhaps a helpful example how you survive such a horrible terroristic act in different ways.
I think God doesn’t want us to be sad forever. It’s a process …
Anything you want to say that’s important to you?
I think that we all need faith. We cannot lose our faith. I think we have to think about a time when we are going to be much happier and things are going to be much better.
I saw a movie about Abraham Lincoln recently. And there was a little girl who lost her dad in the war, and she wrote to him. And he wrote her back very thoughtfully and said: „I know you are very sad now, but you have to think of a time in the very near future, that you will be happy.“
I think we have to remember that that’s coming, and we have to focus on that point and think of it as a goal. In our minds we have to think about a time where we are going to have more peace and more unity. It’s just like a golden life when you set yourself – whether it’s in your professional or personal live – you think about „This is what I want my goal to be“. I think we all have to think about: „Ok, this is a bump, but we are going to get over it and we can see a sunny day.“
That probably sounds almost naive, but I do believe that we have to set our sides on a much better time.
Thank you very much!
More about Make Someone Happy: https://www.makesomeonehappycompany.com/
Many thanks to Johannes Schindlbeck for his help in transcribing and translating the interview into German!
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