Someone is leaving posters all over Toronto reminding you to be happy

If you’ve walked anywhere around Toronto over the past few weeks, you might have noticed handwritten posters placed strategically about the city, all touting a common message — be happy! Written in all caps on large white signs, the city-wide project features popular song lyrics with a smile-inducing twist.

Called the “99 Problems But Being Happy Ain’t One” campaign, it was all started by Andria Stan, a humanist based in Toronto.

“Toronto is going through an interesting transition right now; there are new businesses, a lot of construction, and people are forgetting to take the time to actually be joyful,” she says. “It’s not that you can’t access it, but you forget how to. This is just a reminder that even something as simple as a poster with funny song lyrics can remind you of your own happiness.”

The idea came to Stan last Halloween, when she dressed up as a bloody bride holding a sign that said, “Looking for another husband.”

Everywhere I went with that sign, people wanted to take pictures of it, looking at it and making the best comments and laughing,” she says.

So Stan, who has a background in marketing and psychology, tried out a little experiment. She placed a “99 Problems But Being Happy Ain’t One” poster in her car, parked it at King and Portland, left it there and just watched. “It was really great; people were taking pictures, and the thing that really struck me is that people were actually reading the sign, and as they were reading you could tell they were reflecting on those lyrics,” she says. “So I said, OK, this is something that is great for the community, and people respond to it.”

Since then, Stan has been spreading posters across the city, and has watched as the comments and photos rolled in from people who liked them so much that they messaged her Instagram account (written at the bottom of each poster) to let her know.

“I get messages like, ‘This is exactly what I needed today,'” she says. Stan thinks that’s a reflection of the “rat race” that people get caught up in in the city. “These posters put a pause in that Toronto rat race mentality. I think that together as a community, we can shape the way that we evolve in this city and the culture and community that grows from here.”

Stan has left the posters mostly in parks for a reason: “As you’re walking, your thoughts flow differently. And parks, usually people go to relax and chill, so it’s a great reflection check-in.”

She plans on continuing to leave posters around the city, and is working on a special Valentine’s Day version of the project that will prompt couples to ask each other questions. “We just want people out of the house, out of their homes and into the city and getting them together.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO