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Why I use flash mobs as a form of therapy


Flash mobs are a refreshing glimpse of people doing what we so often forget to do: enjoying life.

I woke up this morning at 4:30 when my daughter peed in my bed. Morning bath, morning coffee for me and milk for her; fed the dog, packed lunch and took her to day care. Check, check, check. I sat down at my computer to check my emails and do a little research, and I stumbled across this wedding proposal flash mob video. Within a minute, I was smiling. Within three, I was crying tears of relieved stress that I didn’t even know were lurking under the surface.

The surprising beauty of a good flash mob

Flash mobs aren’t exactly a new phenomenon, but they do something to the human spirit that is nonetheless surprising and refreshing. It took three minutes of a flash mob video to completely reset my mood. For a moment, life didn’t feel like drudgery and responsibility and challenge. It didn’t feel like a never-ending slog through a work and parenting checklist. It took me a few minutes to figure out what the heck had happened to me, but I’ve narrowed down my emotional response to the inherent playfulness of a good flash mob.

In a world of spreadsheets, flash mobs are wildly creative. The American culture rewards organization, financial success, logistics and efficient production. Certainly, flash mobs require logistics, but they are fundamentally a creative endeavor. And they matter. Creativity and playfulness matters — and flash mobs remind us that our hearts yearn for the “inefficiency” of delight and joy.

Consider, for instance, the smile that spreads across your face when you see a model of efficiency, like an international airport, host a creative dance flash mob like this one.
They remind us that we belong to one another. It was Mother Teresa who said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” In a world that bickers, fights and competes, a flash mob unites and edifies us in a clear example of peacemaking. The success of a flash mob relies on the cohesion of its many parts, and they remind us that working together for good is worth our time and energy, even if it seems frivolous.

We see that beauty takes shape in community. Flash mobs just aren’t the same if they’re composed of a single person. After all, a person dancing by himself in a park might be considered a weirdo. In a culture that worships individual successes, flash mobs are a reminder that beauty is amplified in community.

Don’t you agree that this flash mob just got better and better as more people joined in?
Flash mobs reveal the state of our inner world. If you’re anything like me, you might use busyness to shut down your emotional world when it’s inconvenient to feel sadness or even hope. Part of my emotional response to the proposal flash mob was a longing to experience love again after a bad divorce. It’s hard to watch a flash mob without feeling something, and feeling something is always better than feeling nothing (even if it hurts a little bit). I wouldn’t have uncovered my hidden longing to love again without seeing this unabashed and playful testimony of a man’s love for his future wife.

Tell us! Have you ever felt emotionally moved by watching a flash mob?

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