Rejection 83 - Exchange Rejection for Smile in DC

Many times people write me suggesting how I would experience rejections differently in various parts of the world, or even in different areas within the United States. My Brazilian friends told me that there is no way I could carry out this project in Brazil, because people would say 'yes' to everything, while my NYC friends would draw the same conclusion, but reasoning that New Yorkers would deny every request I throw their way. To test out the hypothesis that Rejection Therapy would induce different results in different parts of the US, I took a trip to the East Coast, aiming to experience it myself.

My first stop - Washington DC, where I met Massoud Adibpour, the founder of the remarkable project - Make DC Smile. Our goal was to recruit strangers to hold up signs in order to cheer up DC commuters. Would people join our quest?

When people reject me when I try to make them happy without ulterior motive, it would be easy to take the rejection personally. However, by focusing on my own actions (waving signs with enthusiasm) rather than the outcome (getting a honk), I could care less about how others react. I was trying to make people happy, and therefore I was happy. By my action, the total happiness index of Washington DC went up, and that's all it mattered.

Also, when I recruited strangers to join, most said no. I could relate to people fundraising for non-profit organizations who are frustrated by the lack of interests, especially if they believe deeply in their causes. However, I learned that no matter how noble the cause, not everyone shares my passion and belief. Even if they do, they have the right to say 'no' because of their own circumstances and reasons. All I need is to find those who do share my belief and are willing to help me.

Lastly, Massoud offered to help a walking-by family to locate their destination before asking for a favor. And he got it. Sometimes by helping others, we are more likely to receive help in return.


1. No matter how noble your cause is, focus on your own actions rather than the outcome.

2. Allow others to reject you. In fact, most people will reject you. There will eventually be people sharing your belief and therefore joining your cause.

3. Offer to help others first.