Phew! What an eventful week I had last week! It was core course week here in Copenhagen which meant I spent the whole week with only my positive psychology class. We spent the first two days in Copenhagen and then travelled to western Denmark Thursday-Saturday. It was an action packed week full of activities, laughs and good memories and upon reflection I wanted to share one of my favorite things we did.
While in Aarhus we were given an assignment called “random acts of kindness”. Our professor gave each group a little bit of money and told us to go out around the city and commit acts of kindness. The requirements? Some acts needed to be anonymous, some non-anonymous, some with money and some without money.
I was immediately so excited thinking of all the possible things we could do. My group decided to buy a couple bouquets of roses and hand them out individually to random strangers we encountered while walking around the city. It was so much more fun than you can even imagine. To see the smiles light up people’s faces when they were handed a flower was incredible. I found myself smiling the whole time from contagious joy.
It was very interesting to interact with the Danish culture in this way because not every encounter was successful! Some people were skeptical of us trying to give them a flower. In fact, in most cases we had to lead with saying “its free” so people would actually accept the flower and even then some people still wouldn’t take it. That was a bit disheartening, but did not take away from the mutual happiness that was expressed when someone did accept the flower.
I find it a little bit sad that today’s culture perpetuates the idea that nothing is for free and that even kindness comes with a cost. Obviously we were strangers handing out flowers and it is always good to be cautious of strangers but I found myself getting discouraged when people would actually recoil from my outstretched, rose containing hand simply because they did not know me and could not trust my kindness. I hope that one day we live in a world in which people can feel safe enough to accept kindness and generosity from one another without expecting repercussions or something in return.
It was a truly eye-opening experience and I enjoyed learning the value of kindness and how a simple and kind interaction can create gratitude for and acceptance of one another.
Below is a short video of our experiences with this assignment, feel free to check it out!