But hey, don't take my word for it. I decided to contact Shell Eves the co-creator of Make Sydney Smile and find out how they feel about doing all of this.
How did this idea come about?
Shell: We talked to each other a lot about random acts of kindness and how we would like to do some. There are some really great projects going around like "Wake Up Project" that promote random acts of kindness. However, we found participating really difficult because most of those acts are about paying for things for people or buying things and we're both pretty broke. So we had to think of a way to do nice things for strangers that don't require a lot of money. We thought of signs and letters. Then we came across Make DC Smile, run by Massoud Adibpour who holds up happy signs in high traffic areas in Washington. We loved that so we wrote to him and told him our ideas and asked if we could join forces and be 'Make sydney smile'. It'd be so cool if it became a global thing, a few other American cities have started doing it too.
Why do you do think this is important?
Shell: Life can get really busy and stressful sometimes, especially in Sydney where people work very long hours and try to fit as much as possible into their lives. The downside to this is that we often shut ourselves off from the people around us, we don't interact with people we don't know and sometimes can even have automatic negative feelings toward the people that surround us in everyday life. We wanted to provide an alternative way of thinking about strangers as a way to get through that isolation and the feeling of others being outsiders or being less important than us. So we decided we'd start giving kindness to strangers in the form of kind words and compliments on signs and fliers, writing letters, etc just for the sake of making them stop for a second and smile or laugh. We do this because it benefits our own sense of belonging and positivity in the community, but we also hope it's a bit infectious and other people will want to be actively kind to strangers too.
How does this make you feel?
Shell: Acting on compassion and kindness is a funny thing. You do things with the purpose of making somebody else feel good but you end up benefiting from it as well, maybe even more so than the person you're delivering kindness to. So we do this project because we want to make other people smile, laugh, be happy and feel good about themselves, but as a result we get this real sense of connectedness to other people and feel less self-centred and less 'in-our-own-minds.' Just shifting from focusing internally on ourselves to bringing the focus externally to how we can do nice things for others is very uplifting. And then of course when we occasionally get caught in the act or get feedback from people who say it made their day, then obviously that makes us really happy.
Does it matter that you don't get a response all the time?
Shell: Part of the beauty of this is that no response is required. We sometimes put our Facebook address on the signs to spread the information but there is no obligation for people to take any action to thank us or return the favour. We like that part of it, just putting the kindness out there and letting it go.
If you want to find out more or keep track of Make Sydney Smile, check out their Facebook page.