Kindness brightens people’s day

Vy Swenson starts project gratitude to help campus happiness.
Jorah Mckinley/Castleton Spartan

How much is a smile worth? Or a thank you, or a door held open? More than you might think. According to Castleton students, it really is the little things that brighten their day.

 Living in an area with such a brutal winter, it can be hard to keep a smile on your face all year round, but students say there are things you can do to help others stay happy.

“It’s something as small as saying thank you and being polite,” said senior Olivia Janus. That’s what keeps her spirits up.

“When I run into someone who’s rude it really bring me down,” she said.

You might think that no one notices when you smile as they walk by or say a simple please and thank you, but those little things go a long way on Castleton’s campus, students say.

“I just try to look at people when I walk by, say hi and smile,” Jessica Potash said. Potash transferred to Castleton from SUNY Cortland this semester and finds that passersby tend to be more friendly at the small college with a big heart.

“At Cortland, people wouldn’t bother looking up, or even holding a door open for you. It was seriously depressing. Here at Castleton it’s much different,” Potash said.  

Samantha Bessette said she notices and appreciates every time someone holds a door for her, and there’s a lot of that at Castleton.

From 10: 30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning, 51 people heading into Leavenworth Hall held the door for the person behind them.

“I’m pumped when someone holds the door for me. It’s just nice to know they’re paying attention to what’s going on around them, and they’re aware of other humane beings,” Alex Brownell said.

She tries to show people she cares by asking about their day.

“When people take the time to ask you about yourself, it means a lot,” Brownell said.

Brianna Hoar has a unique response when people ask her how she’s doing. Instead of the cliché “good, how are you,” she tries to step it up a notch and respond with, “I’m awesome, and you?!”

Hoar said this brings joy to herself as well as others.

Vy Swenson, of Alumni and Parent Relations at Castleton, is currently trying to implement what she is calling “Project Gratitude.”

This includes members of the Castleton community writing small thank you notes to people who have somehow improved their time at Castleton. These notes will be posted and then delivered to whomever they are addressed to.

 Swenson’s goal is to make “thank you” a Castleton tradition.

For her, just seeing a smile on someone else’s face brightens her day.

She’s also a self-proclaimed hugger.

None of these things are difficult to do, but they bring joy to members of the Castleton community.  A hello, a thank you, an open door, a hug, or just a question about your day is all it takes to keep Castleton students smilin’.

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