TED Conversations

Adam Engstrom

Service Learning Coordinatior, AmeriCorps

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For one day a year, everyone gives flowers to a random stranger.

I currently live in London, and one day, after coming out of a student fair, I passed by a street vendor selling flowers. Feeling that the aesthetic beauty of the flowers reflected my feelings at the time, I bought some cheaper flowers and proceeded to walk home. Being a social psychologist, I then decided that I should give some of them out in order to promote positive psychology in those that I meet.

The first random stranger I met, a young activist for a charity looking for donations, was very happy to get a flower after I had a short conversation with her. The next individual, a marketing flyer distributor on the street, met the request with disdain; however, I did not engage in any sort of meaningful conversation with the individual so perhaps that created a bit of a gap between us. I would like to stress that I had no ulterior motives and did not even give either individual my name, although I did share some general personal facts.

I just can't believe that we live in a world where giving away flowers has become corrupted into something that someone could be afraid of. Therefore, I suggest that we mark one day on our calendars as a day for buying a single bouquet of flowers and giving them out to random strangers one at a time. In order to promote other perspectives and a rapport, people should first engage in conversation with another. Perhaps this might create peace and understanding between disparate groups. At the very least, it will make someone happy.


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    Nov 10 2011: Giving away a flower would make for an interesting flash mob event!

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