What is the secret to true happiness? Have you ever thought about that? What is it about some people that make them so darned happy? How can some people can be happy despite the trials and tribulations of life? Conversely, why is it that some people are never happy?
For me, the secret of being happy lies not in me but in others. I think to be truly happy you have to look outward. You have to make others happy. I hope that I do that through my writing and I also try to do that in my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have plenty of days when I struggle to be happy. Sometimes the stresses of my life really get me down and I find it difficult to “put on a happy face”. But on those days, I find that if I do just the simplest act of kindness, my mood starts to lift upward.
The story below comes from a website called Propel Steps. I’m not sure of the original author but it really echoes what I truly feel - that our own happiness lies in making others happy.
Once a group of 50 people was attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and started giving each one a balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.
Now these delegates were left in that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written, within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos. At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon.
Now each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.
The speaker began— Exactly this is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness.
I’ve listed a few of my favorite ideas for spreading happiness and making others smile.
1. Smile at everyone you pass. Smiling is euphoric. Go ahead, smile. You feel good when you do. Smiling is not only euphoric, it’s contagious. When you smile at someone, it’s really hard for them not to smile back. Maybe the person you smiled at was having a bad day. Maybe your smile helped to turn that day around. Perhaps that person then smiled at someone else and made their day. You can see where this is going.
2. Let someone in front of you in traffic. This is a hard one for me. I really get irritated at those people who seemingly do not know how to merge. But, you never know who might be behind the wheel. Maybe it is a new teen driver, getting on the interstate for the first time. Or maybe it’s a timid elderly woman who doesn’t normally drive herself. Perhaps it’s a really aggressive driver who would have cut you off if you didn’t let them in. Just slow down, let them in, and smile because you did.
3. When you’re at the mall or entering an office building, stop and hold the door for the person coming in behind you, even if they are several steps behind you. Hopefully they will smile at your gesture of kindness and thank you. If not, wish them a happy day anyway.
4. Greet every person who steps in the elevator with you. Wish them all a great day as you leave.
5. Take the time to learn someone’s name and remember it the next time you see them. Have a favorite server at the coffee shop or cashier at the market? Notice their nametag and call them by name. Jot it down so you can remember it next time you see them and greet them by name. I use the Notes app on my phone for this.
6. Make conversation with your favorite server, cashier, clerk at the dry cleaners, etc. Learn something about them. Did they just have a baby? Are they planning a vacation? Ask them about it the next time you see them. (After you call them by name - see #5 above)
7. Be a really good friend. Know someone who is going through a tough time? Spend some time with them. Ask them how they’re doing and really listen. Don’t go on about your problems, listen to theirs. Give them a hug, let them know you care. Even if they don’t feel like talking, sit with them in silence. Just be there.
8. Send someone a handwritten thank you note. I always keep a stash of note cards handy. You can get some really cute ones in the dollar bins at a certain craft store. Whenever someone has done something nice for me or for my family I try to write them a note letting them know how much I appreciated it. I was taught as a child to always write thank you notes and I really think it is a lost art. Let’s bring them back!
9. Buy a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store and pass out individual flowers to people who might need a day brightener – the exhausted mom with the screaming toddler, the frazzled cashier who just encountered a grumpy customer. I haven’t tried this one yet but I just thought of it as I was writing these. And it made me smile!
10. Jot down your own ideas to be kind and make others smile. As was the case in # 9 above, just doing so makes you happy.
So today, I encourage you to go out and make someone happy. You’ll be happy you did!
"I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others" – Booker T. Washington