Adam Engstrom

Service Learning Coordinatior, AmeriCorps

This conversation is closed.

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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    Oct 20 2011: Here is a website that relates to this idea:

    http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/10/stop-being-socially-lazy-and-start-enjoying-yourself.php

    The subtitle of the article is simply: Talking to strangers is more fun than we predict because showing off makes us feel good. Which is evidence of why something like this needs to happen.

    I say we make it a day on the calendar. It needs to be far enough away from the other holidays so it doesn't get confused with any of the major ones. I am going to go with September 31st because I think that is about when I did it in the first place.
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    Oct 20 2011: Brilliant- Now there is an idea worth sharing.
  • Oct 20 2011: I can't say I've ever done that, but I believe in a way of living best put as 'pay it forward'. I live my life and help people at any opportunity I can in the hope that they will do the same for someone else someday. It's as simple as seeing a person who's upset and saying a nice compliment or giving a few dollars to someone down on their luck. I believe that someday my actions will hopefully help thousands if not more through other people.
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      Oct 20 2011: It was a bit of an... odd think to do, but I like to keep people on their toes (probably comes with being a psych major lol). But you are so right about paying it forward. There was a psych study once (if I remember it correctly) where scientists anonymously left a little bit of change in a phone booth (back when those were popular, sheesh), and so the individual didn't have to pay for their phone call. Then they found if people were more likely to help a random stranger than in the control group (i.e. no money left). And they were. Pay it forward is, in my opinion, a beautiful idea and exactly what I am going for here. Keep up the good work!
  • Oct 20 2011: Your idea also reminds me of living in South Florida and how lovely it was to see people hawking flowers on the street corners. The UK is the only other place I have seen that take place. Excellent idea.
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      Oct 20 2011: There is something quite nice about street flower vendors isn't there? Or at least, in my opinion there is. I think that it makes the street more attractive.
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    Oct 20 2011: For one day a year, everyone gets free cake!
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      Oct 20 2011: I would love free cake! But I am worried, of course, that others may question the ingredients that you put in the cake might be nefarious in some way. Mm, now you are making me want cake, and it is my birthday none-the-less!
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    Oct 20 2011: I think your idea is a clever and a sweet way of changing people's views. We need more ideas like yours (of the same context) as people in today's society, often assume, judge and take it by their stereotypical perspective...I figure we need to reverse and go back to undo this mistake. Great idea :D
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      Oct 20 2011: Exactly. It is really hard to walk up to someone and be like, tell me about yourself. We, or at least my culture, is taught both implicitly and explicitly to avoid strangers. Of course, there is some validity to that, I don't want anyone jumping into an unmarked van just because it says "Free candy!" on the side. But there should be at least a bit of an exchange between people, otherwise, we never learn about any other perspectives.