Happiness is something we all strive for, but we often turn away from the truth about happiness. The big secret -that’s not a secret- is that when you bring joy to others, you also bring joy to yourself. This scares us because the more miserable we are the more often we will withdraw from people, either from a fear of being rejected or a fear that we are a burden to others because we aren’t very cheerful. Reality is that the worse we feel mentally and emotionally the more we need people in our lives because when you serve others, you are infusing happiness into yourself as well.
When we are feeling down and miserable it is often the hardest time to brainstorm about things, we can do to implement change in our lives. Especially when we feel we really shouldn’t be around people as we make up excuses to avoid the things that will help. Let’s talk about simple things you can do to increase your level of happiness.
Research shows that generosity and being considerate makes people happy. Its really that simple. More than likely you are already doing some acts of kindness. Start by thinking through what you currently do. The smile you give a neighbour when you pass them on the street or watching your friend’s child when they need it. There are probably a lot of things you do that you just pass off as a way of life.
The next step is to start looking at ways to reach out to others. Buy someone flowers just because or put a note in your spouse’s lunch that will make them smile. Give a compliment to your co-worker or an encouraging word to a child. The list is endless, and you can expand it by thinking of things you want someone else to do for you. If you are struggling then google it, there are lots of list of random acts of kindness out there like this one I found boasting of the best 101 of them.
Ways to mix this up are to invite someone else to do a random act of kindness with you as it will help both of you joy. Or do an act of kindness and keep it a secret. I’ve been in one of those drive thru lines where the person in front of me paid for my meal. I’ll never get to meet that person as by the time I found out they had driven off, but it definitely made my day. There are all kinds of ways to brighten the life of the people around you.
Lastly, vary your kindness. Research makes it clear that helping others on a regular basis makes people happy for extended period but what you might not know if that by varying your acts will make a huge difference in your happiness level. This is because if we don’t change it up, it becomes a chore.
When you repeat the same act of kindness over and over, it can eventually become tedious and detract from your joy, rather than add to it. So, don’t fall into a rut of thinking: when I do this it will give me the jolt I need but rather, keep your mind fresh by varying what you do.
Keeping our mind healthy is important to our well-being. If you are finding that you are struggling with this, please reach out for help. If you have a great story to share about your act of kindness, please post it as it would be a great way to encourage another.
To a happier life!
Trish Pauls, MA RP Registered Psychotherapist
HELPPS Psychotherapy Services