Random Acts of Happiness

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 30 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.

-Downtown Hoola Hoop Competition
-Ice Cream for Construction Workers
-Doodle Bus Stop
-Ding Dong Ditch Happy
-Free Compliment Cards
-Bee-You-Tee-Full Minneapolis Photo Collage
-Picnic Lunch for Strangers at the Park
-Bubblegum Blowing Contest
-Ice Cream Party with Strangers
-Tattoos for Everyone
-Free Flowers for All
-Pillowcases for Firemen
-First Love
-Author Birthday Party
-Pop-Up Photobooth in the Alley
-Fanny Pack Attack
-The Sweetest Wait
-Positive Change
-Street Art: Stair of Hearts
-Funny Pins for Strangers
-Money Buys Happiness
-Naked Cake Party
-Creating Welcome Mats for the Neighborhood
-Something for Nothing: Free Books
-Targeted Kindness with Babycakes
-Hanging Jokes around Minneapolis
-Celebrate Others
-Gratitude Madlibs
-Compliment Cards
-Bookmarks Hidden in my Favorite Novels
-Kind Letters Hidden Around Town
-Free Puppy Treats
-Pay-It-Forward Stickers
-Candy for a Stranger
-Pop-Up Art Gallery
-Candy Mural

-Free Water Bottles for Bikers
-Decorating Sugar Cookies with Strangers
-Holiday Goodies for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers
-Popcorn Surprise for Movie Night
-Community Encouragement Board
-Sweet Treats for Strangers
-Silly Street Art
-Who Do You Love?
-Smile on a Stick
-Gift for the Mailman
-Happy Surprise for Minneapolis Fire Station 8
-Conversations with Strangers
-Fill the Streets with Poetry
-Gratitude Project
-Beautiful Journal

9 thoughts on “Random Acts of Happiness

  1. This is so lovely! Have you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? It’s great, and I love it because it made me think again about all the ways I can increase my happiness and the happiness of others. So glad that someone like you is out there brightening up everyone’s day!

  2. the free puppy treats is a great idea. Especially yesterday at the same beach where you left the free books to be read. The beach was packed (sunday) and witht the continued heat, it will probably be crowded all week with people and DOGS as well.
    As far as the Naked Cake Party, I can hardly wait to see the UNEDITED pictures.

  3. Oh my goodness, I am so excited to read each and every one of these! It’s one of my bucket goals to do anonymous acts of kindness (happiness, you might say =)) on my birthday, one for each year. I might be stealing a few of your lovely ideas! You have a gorgeous blog.

  4. I absolutely LOVE this! Do you mind if I use some of your ideas? I so enjoy RAOK’s and making others smile. I really think it does more for me though. :) I’m so thrilled that I found your blog!


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