Kindness Captured/ Happiness Melted
Will anyone out there on a 91-degree cloudless summer day turn down free popsicles given out by two honest-looking girls who just want to be nice to strangers? In New York City, the answer is yes.
On Saturday, June 30th, Kylie and I were giving out popsicles in and around Washington Square Park for an event called Kindness Capture, in which participants teamed up to accomplish random missions relying on the kindness of strangers. Imagining how popular popsicles were going to be in a day like this, and slightly disappointed at how not challenging our mission was, compared to other ones like “inviting a stranger to lunch”, or “ask a stranger to listen to an important personal story”, we decided to get 24 popsicles instead of 12, as it was required in the mission.
Well, well. We did give out all the popsicles, but it took much longer than we expected and there were more Noes than Yeses; and here is what I observed: the more well dressed one is, the less possible he or she is going to accept a popsicle. The happier one seems to be, the easier he or she gets cheered up by a popsicle.
People in suits and dresses did not slow down when they shook their heads or hands. Big fancy sunglasses came handy in avoiding eye-contacts. Runners and readers equipped with smart devices do not want to be disturbed. “No.”, “No, I don’t eat sweet.”, “No.”, “What are you selling?”, “No.” “No. Thanks, but no.”.”I don’t want a popsicle.”, “I’m sure I don’t want a popsicle.”… They walked fast. They looked tired. They were skeptical. And they did not smile. Children, students, shopkeepers, construction workers, venders, street performers and tourists, they smiled, laughed, cheered, sang and danced for the little pieces of coolness arriving amongst the sweltering heat. They were curious. They asked questions about us and told us their stories. They were generous. They called other people over to share the popsicles and they don’t mind us taking picture.
I’m not making any connection here between wealth and happiness, people who needed to be in suits and dresses on a Saturday morning is probably not that wealthy anyways, but let’s put it like this: in a world where rich people get richer, happy people also get happier, and it does not cost much to be happy, maybe just a popsicle in a hot day, or a little kindness to a stranger.