This Thursday, a white supremacist by the name of Richard Spencer rented out the Phillips Center in Gainesville, Florida, for the chance to spread hateful rhetoric and amass a horde of supporters.
What Spencer found instead was a crowd of protesters who drowned out his extremist defense of "peaceful ethnic cleansing" and other oxymoronic statements with University of Florida game day chants, defiant standing, and the traditional (but always effective) booing of discontent.
Watching the Facebook live stream coverage from the relative safety of my on-campus apartment in Gainesville, I felt a rush of pride for my fellow Gators partaking in the countermovement.
Whether they risked their personal well-being in a state of emergency by waving signs downtown or by sharing messages of hope for a nonexclusive, peaceful world in social media statuses, these men and women stood up for the good of all, doing so in a way that exercised their constitutional rights without resorting to base violence.
"What does this mean for me?"
Now, I'm not going to go into too much detail about what Spencer's alt-right views are and why they're 50 shades of messed up; there's enough coverage on that from more knowledgeable sources than I. (And, frankly, if the label "white supremacist" don't scare you, I don't know what can.)
Nor will I defend my right to discuss relevant political issues in an online fashion and beauty magazine aimed at 20-something college girls — mainly because I, along with Lauren Duca and Hadley Freeman and Chava Gourarie and countless others, believe that an interest in fashion and socio-political issues are NOT mutually exclusive.
Instead, I'm going to use the platform that I was given to promote something much more important than this year's latest bully:
That's right, kiddos. That simple four-letter word that makes rainbows from thunderstorms and fools out of kings — love. Turns out, everyone in the world needs it, and we should be doing our part in giving even more than we receive.
To cancel out the meanness of events that have happened, are happening right now, and have yet to happen, I invite you all to partake in the #CFCares challenge.
Participants, you may peruse our list below, follow it to your heart's content, and see if you can document your experience on social media for bonus points! (I'll give you fair warning, though — everyone who tries these out is already a winner in my book.)
A list of 25 simple ways you can spread happiness now:
2. Pay it forward. Next time you're at a Starbucks drive-through, tell the cashier you're paying for the car behind's meal. Leave behind one P.I.F. card to notify them of the trend. Who knows? You might just break the 11-hour pay-it-forward streak from 2014.
3. Support your friends. Here's an easy one: next time someone invites you to a Facebook event they made, actually go to it instead of clicking "maybe" and flaking out. They'll appreciate it a ton, trust me.
4. Donate money to a charity of your choosing. While you're at it, see if they need any helpers! It make take some digging to find one that fits your cause, but there's something for everyone. (I suggest using Charity Watch as a starting point.)
5. Recycle. Mother Earth needs some love, too.
6. Ask someone how their day was. Don't say it just to be polite; pay attention to their response and what they're actually saying. Let them know you care.
7. Hug your loved ones. Hugging releases oxytocin, the "love hormone." It's literally life-affirming.
8. Acknowledge the kindness of others. If someone opens the door for you, say "thank you." (Alternatively, if you can keep the door open for people coming in behind you, don't hesitate to do so.)
9. Give genuine compliments. Obviously, this does not include catcalling or sexual harassment, both of which are never OK. But when you go out of your way to say something nice to a friend or stranger, it really brightens up their day. For instant confidence boosts, use any of these 100 compliments.
10. Donate blood. I know, I know. The thought of a needle poking into my skin makes me cringe, but donating blood, platelets, or plasma to those in need could help save someone's life. Can you honestly think of a greater gift than that?
11. Donate clothing. Everyone has that cute purchase that lies in the closet season after season, patiently waiting for the day it'll be put to use before the wearer outgrows it or changes their taste. Rather than letting your gently-used (or never-used) clothing collect mothballs, donate it and let a fellow fashionista take it out for a spin!
12. Give your parents a call. They just want to hear about your day, people!
13. Save your leftovers for a homeless person. You know they need the remaining portion of your chicken marsala and untouched side dish far more than you do.
14. Smile. Not only does smiling make you seem approachable, but the physical act of smiling reduces stress and positively influences your mood. And because joy begets more joy, you're really helping other people by helping yourself.
15. Tip when it's not necessary. Leave a dollar bill in the tip jar of your go-to froyo place. Take it from someone who's been in that position before: it'll make your tired, minimum wage cashier very happy!
18. Comment something nice on a friend's Facebook post. You know that one person who shares so many Facebook statuses that you've considered unfollowing them? They're probably really lonely. Brighten up their day and let them know you're listening by leaving a comment on one of their posts or asking how their day was.
19. Text your S.O. good morning and good night. It's such an easy thing to do, but it really goes a long way in showing that you're thinking about them. And texting or Snapchatting updates throughout the day is also well-appreciated — especially when you're in a long distance relationship.
20. Refrain from gossip. In the words of Sarah Herstich, "When we tear one woman down, we tear all women down." Instead of snooping around for the "bad" in others, focus on the good; no room for negativity here!
21. Send a stranger a letter. There's such a universal feeling of joy in receiving a handwritten letter, but those away from home feel the need for this personal touch most. With organizations like More Love Letters to Soldier's Angels' Letter Writing Team and Write a Prisoner, you can .
22. Clean up after yourself. Just because you're eating out doesn't mean that you have to be a slob! If you can make the job easier for someone else, do it. The same goes for any situation requiring proper hygiene, such as leaving toilet seats clean.
23. Listen. I know this ties in with #6 already, but the act of listening is so important that it needed to be mentioned twice. We deserve to be heard, not talked over or interrupted.
24. Be grateful. Viewing the world with an optimistic mindset opens you up to a lifetime of positivity. When you take nothing for granted, everything is a gift. And who doesn't want to be around an appreciative person?
25. Make a list of your own. I'll be honest — I teared up writing this post when I realized how much good I could bring out just by doing these little actions. It was a wonderful, introspective experience, and I know you'll benefit from thinking of 25 more ways to help out others and make the world a better place. I believe in you!
What are you doing today to help out?
Start small if you must, but start somewhere. If you need a little push to do good, share this article and invite your friends to take up the #CFCares challenge!