Lighting Candles

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,

and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.


It all started with a science project. Angela Goodfellow set up a website, and crowd sourced her experiment. People registered, volunteered for a group, and returned to answer questions. There was the “Friends and Neighbours” group, the “Strangers only”, “Secret”, “Wear a Badge”, and various others.

Officially the project ended, but the test subjects stayed on. New volunteers showed up every day, and similar sites started popping up. The results were overwhelming. All of the volunteers – except the control group – reported they smiled more, felt less stress, and their relationships were better. After three to six months even their health improved. It did turn out to be addictive, but nobody really minded.

It seems obvious to us nowadays, but back then people really didn’t know: even if you do them in secret and for strangers, random acts of kindness make you happier.

* * *

This week’s philosophical story challenge by T.Mastgrave:  Is altruism possible?

Related post: Why Hate Hurts – or love heals.

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I like blue.

4 thoughts on “Lighting Candles”

  1. This is good, and it gets your point across well. However, you wait until the last sentence to clarify what you’re talking about. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It adds some weight to the revelation, and you use the technique well, but this is a technique that will lose some readers. There are people that just don’t like being in the dark. Like I said, not a bad thing, but something to be aware of.

    1. Yes, I’m sure you’re right about possibly losing readers on the way. Telling it earlier made the story feel flat. Good to keep in mind, certainly.
      Thanks for the challenge. It’s a completely different exercise trying to concoct a story to make a point, rather than writing a story that “comes into your head”. Even if, as often as not, I find myself not precisely answering the question…

  2. I agree, you almost lost me. What the heck is going on I wondered. It’s a good thing this piece is short. Still, I liked it but feel I had to wait too long to see what this was about. Good work!

    1. I do see your point. Still, I wonder, if it had read: “Angela Goodfellow set up a website, and crowd sourced her experiment on the effect of kindness.”
      Would the story have sustained your interest to the end? Or did you really only read on to find out what it was about?
      Maybe I’d need something else to keep the tension…

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