It took a raccoon to teach us that positivity should go viral, too

It took a raccoon to teach us that positivity should go viral, too

The #MPRraccoon has returned to her home in the wild. In lieu of her furry brand of positivity, I thought it prudent to offer a few ideas on spreading kindness, hope, and putting some of the good stuff back in the world.

Also, she made it into Vogue, the New York Times, and Buzzfeed. You guys, my heart!

Humanity is struggling. We’re in dire need of good news. The hard part is no one cares as much about the good as they do the bad. Well, they may care but we don’t see the good stuff published on the front page – and it doesn’t get nearly as many clicks online.

Until a skyscraper-scaling raccoon, apparently.

But why do we need political BS, scandals and/or drama to be our only form of information? Yes, it’s important to know what’s going on in the world – and more important to know what’s going on in our own backyard. But only focusing solely on the negative is actually really sad.

(Also, it’s detrimental to our health: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?)

It took a raccoon to teach us that good things can go viral, too

So, heads up – there won’t be any of those things in this article. You know what else can make us feel good? Kindness. Like, Princess Diana-style. So, let’s do it: Let’s make good go viral.


I first heard about the Drive-Thru Difference on local music station, KTIS.

The concept is simple: Pay for the order placed by the person in the drive-thru line behind you. Just say, “I’d like to pay for the person’s order behind me. Can you just tell them to have a great day?” Or, whatever encouraging and uplifting thing you’d like to pass on.

It’s similar to the movie Pay It Forward. Remember that – Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment – circa 2000? The world, at the time, didn’t know what it was to “go viral” but the concept still managed to stick: Instead of paying someone back for something, pay it forward to someone else instead.

It doesn’t have to be big. We don’t always have the ability to do something “big.” Paying someone’s mortgage for the month, driving someone to work each day, or even treating someone to dinner is not always possible. But remember, the small things count, too. Getting coffee, sending a postcard, or just sharing a smile or a hug; they, too, make a significant impact. Often more than we realize.

As Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward (the book), says, “Because it proves that you don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordinary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.” 

Positivity in action

One day, I was getting my morning coffee at McDonald’s. I just happened to look in my rearview mirror to see a little old lady perched up high on her drivers seat. I felt the urge to pay for her. I wasn’t sure what she ordered, but it didn’t matter. I told the drive-thru guy that I wanted to pay for the car behind me. He smiled and ran my card twice. I pulled forward to get my coffee and watched as the little old lady was told she didn’t have to pay. She waved excitedly, bounced up and down, mouthing “Thank you, thank you!” And it felt so good. I could clearly see that she was happy, but it made me so happy, too. Maybe that’s the point of kindness? Maybe when we pay it forward, it brightens our lives as well?

It took a raccoon to teach us that good things can go viral, too

But what about after? Do we share what we did with the world? Some might roll their eyes and say that sharing defeats the purpose; that you’re supposed to do it for the good intentions, and not the praise. While of course this is true; you should do it as simply a kind act and not for exposure, I disagree that keeping it to yourself is the better option: If you made someone feel good, and it made you feel good, I say tell people. The more we share, the more we provoke others to do the same.

And Lord knows we have enough Debbie Downer news on the circuits to balance it out anyway. Why not let a few positive acts go viral? The world could use a smile or two.

So, when you’re in the Starbucks drive-thru for your I-made-it-through-the-week, I-deserve-this, $7 latte on Friday (where I often find myself), take a peek at the person behind you. They might need a smile – a little positivity in their lives. Perhaps it’s your turn to pay it forward.

Who knows how far it will spread?

Read more: The #MPRraccoon honored by the St. Paul Saints