Loneliness is more prevalent than we realize. One of the ways we build friendships by playing Sparked is just by inviting people into our lives, perhaps into a context that is not the one we met them in. The invitation to participate is incredibly important. Sparked is an invaluable tool for helping to get people connected in a way that they don’t expect. When we share our stories, we share our values and we create opportunities to be truly seen and heard. Our authenticity invites empathy and connection. Sparked provides us with a way to connect with others without devices (though sometimes our phones are pulled into games!) in meaningful ways.
It’s great to always have a Sparked game planned because any time you meet someone who could be a potential friend, there is always something that you can invite him/her to. That “ready invitation” is key because you never know how many opportunities you have to let this person know that you want to see him/her again, and that you’d like to get to know him/her better.
When I was living in Honolulu, I brought my Sparked game to a mortgage broker’s wellness event. I opened up the box and put the cards out around the spinner. I invited people to come spin the spinner and answer a question. While a few of the folks standing around watching me did not want to participate, I did notice one realtor who was drawn to the questions. We ended up asking and answering questions, creating a fun-filled dialogue. She bought a game, and eventually ended up hosting several games, and becoming a dear friend. As an introvert, she really appreciated the opportunity to connect more deeply, and the two of us shared many evenings playing Sparked over the next year! She has also been able to expand her client-base as a realtor in a way that is organic and satisfying for everyone involved. Her heart shines through when she answers the questions, and her passion for helping clients comes through when she speaks. She has been able to create more friendship and more work opportunities for herself by playing and eventually hosting the game in our community!
One of the cards in the game asks players to share one wish that they would grant for themselves. One of the women who came to play shared her wish for vision improvement. It gave space for another woman who attended to share that she also has vision challenges and never talks about it because she doesn’t think that others will understand. A third woman in the group shared that she is legally blind, and about the mindset that has helped her to bring compassion to her own experience of vision. We don’t know the challenges that others face until they are shared. Whenever we play Sparked, the odds for connection and resource sharing increase! The questions invite conversation.
Friendship happens through increased vulnerability and frequency of contact. If there are already other communities that you have met someone through, an invitation to play Sparked is an excellent way to add another opportunity to spend time with someone in a setting that encourages vulnerability and connection. It also supports others in expanding their networks of real-life connections, so you are also providing opportunities to expand friendship networks.
At a recent game one of the cards asked a woman to share about an idea that she would want to pitch to someone, and she shared a business idea that she was then encouraged to pursue by a business coach and entrepreneurs who were present at the game who could see the value that her offering would bring to the community. They offered her tools and resources in addition to encouragement. Ideas are often planted not just for business ventures, but for future travel plans, talks, service projects, and opportunities for adventure. There are so many ways that Sparked facilitates the development of friendships and further opportunities for connection!
Article written by Vivian Best, who started Sparked in Austin.