Sometimes it seems like there’s just so much in the world to bring us down. If only there were something we could do to help people feel more joy in their daily lives.
Well, guess what, there are actually many things that we can do every day to spread the power of smiles to those around us. And many of them are very easy! Here’s a quick list to get you started, but we bet that once you get in the habit of trying to spread joy, you’ll come up with even more on your own.
Give a Genuine Compliment
One of the reasons why people go around feeling unhappy is that they don’t really appreciate themselves. Part of the problem is that they can’t see themselves as you see them. You might think that how awesome a person is should go without saying–but it doesn’t. Say something.
The range of possibilities is endless. Compliment someone’s smile. Compliment their job performance. Compliment their clothes or sense of style. You can even compliment their vocabulary or just how fun they are to talk to!
It might start out seeming like a challenge to find something great to say about all the people in your life, but once you start really looking, you’ll be amazed at how much these people give to you. And once you tell them, they’ll know it, too, and they’ll be happier.
Reach Out to Someone You Haven’t Talked to in a While
One of the biggest burdens in modern life is when people feel isolated and alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way: there’s a hand for each hand in this world, and all you have to do is reach out yours to find its match.
Start with friends or family members that you’ve lost touch with. Rekindling these old acquaintances can be uplifting for both of you. Even if you don’t have much to talk about, just conveying that you were thinking of them and that you miss them can make them feel better.
Everybody loves a present, and if they get one that they’re not expecting, it makes that much more of an impact.
The gift doesn’t have to be much. Pick up a danish for someone that loves pastries. If someone likes flowers, you don’t have to get them a bouquet: a single rosebud can be even more powerful. If you can do or make something for them, that’s even better. This is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts: put some thought into it, and you can really make someone’s day with an inexpensive gift.
Send a Letter
Who sends letters anymore? Most of us go out to the mailbox with an expectation that we’re going to find a bunch of junk, some bills, and maybe a magazine if we’re lucky.
But a letter is a great delight and surprise. It’s a combination of both the above approaches: an unexpected gift that you put some thought into that reaches out to someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. You can do this easily if you already send Christmas cards: take a few minutes to write a personal note in each one.
You might think you spend much of each day listening to people, but do you really? Listening is not the same as looking for an opportunity to speak while someone else is talking.
Take time in your day to really listen to what people are saying. Ask them for more details. Really remember what they’re telling you, and bring it up on a later day. (Tip: this is a great way to figure out what would make a nice surprise gift for the future!)
We know we should give thanks to God every day for our blessings. But the people in our lives also deserve–and need–our thanks. So make sure you’re thanking them all the things they do for you.
Remember: giving thanks is not the same as saying thanks. Make sure you’re really expressing gratitude. Make your thanks specific to show that you really appreciate what they’ve done. Most of all, don’t let yourself be distracted and say thanks without recognizing the person.
Help a Stranger
We’ve all seen people who could use a little bit of help in their day. Life is hard, and it’s just one thing after another. The challenges never stop. But if someone helps you with just one thing, everything else is so much lighter. It’s not just the effort you’ve saved, it’s the buoying effect of kindness that helps you bob along that much more easily.
Again, it doesn’t have to be much: carry something heavy or maybe take their shopping cart back to the corral. (Secret tip: you can also make someone’s day by being open to their offer of help. Helping out makes both people feel better, but if you reject someone’s assistance, it can make them feel worse.)
What’s easier than this? Just share a smile with everyone you meet, and you’ll be delighted at the power it has to spread joy. Most of the time, you’ll notice that most people smile back. But if they don’t, it’s not important. The odds are good that they’re still feeling good inside. And they may pay that smile forward at some other place.
This is the wonder of these small acts of kindness: they keep spreading. The more of us make kindness and happiness our goal, the more others will also make it their goal, too. And, before you know it, the world may be a much better place than it was.