Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Post: Jennifer Prod

Today, we have Jennifer Prod of Apartment-Wife guest posting. I hope her Random Acts of Happiness experiments inspire you as much as they do me!

I started doing Random Acts of Happiness in an effort to connect with strangers and make them smile.  The anonymity of the city can make it a lonely place, but I believe that kind gestures break down barriers and help form friendships.

I moved to Minneapolis from Wisconsin in May 2013, and my first Random Act of Happiness experiment (hereafter known as rah rah rah) began shortly after.  For the first experiment, I screen-printed poems onto balloons, and then I hung the balloons on doorposts and bike handles around the city.  The poems read as follows:

“I talk to strangers
hoping to meet
someone like you”

“a day without you
is like a morning
without coffee”

“your smile
made me forget
my parking ticket.”

The funny thing about the experiment was how much it served to brighten my own day. I welcomed a break from my own problems to think about making others smile, and it was fun to imagine how people would react to the gifts.

Since then, I’ve done 25 different random acts of happiness – ranging from bubblegum competitions in the park to making ice cream with strangers at the lake.  The rah rah rah experiments have put me in contact with hundreds of strangers, helped me to learn their unique stories, and provided me with insight into what makes people happy.  I have a list of 50 more projects that I want to complete, and it keeps growing as strangers suggest more projects.

Today, I was inspired by Operation Philanthropy to spread happiness for a cause.  I had been wanting to give a gift to a stranger, and after being inspired by Renee, I decided the gift would be a 3 Strands bracelet.

3 Strands bracelets are made by girls rescued from the sex-trafficking industry, and all the proceeds help survivors begin a new life.  Each bracelet is handmade by the survivor and displays a beautiful stone interwoven between 3 strands of yarn.  The stone is hidden within the 3 strands to symbolize how the girls felt invisible to the people that used them in the past.

Heavy subject matter for a happiness experiment, but I hoped to support the survivors by giving a 3 Strands bracelet as a gift.  The experiment took place at Mall of America, and it only took 2 minutes to find someone that could use a smile.  I approached a girl taking a lunch break from work, and handed over the small yellow box.  She looked surprised as she accepted the gift, and she broke into a big smile when I explained it was for her. Her smile was so wonderful that it made me want to give gifts to strangers every day.  Here are some photos from the experiment:

"The gift"

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