Life is stressful. Sometimes it’s hard to look around at the world and find anything joyful about it.
I recently tried an experiment. I posted on social media, “What can I do right now that would make you happy?” Some of the requests I got surprised me:
“Write me a real, snail-mail letter.”
“Read this thing I wrote for my job and give me your thoughts about it.”
“Bring your family over for dinner with ours.”
I also got a marriage proposal from someone I’ve never even met, which made me think that maybe a simple offer of kindness is a more desperate need in our society than I formerly appreciated.
Fortunately, Hubs is secure enough that he laughed over my would-be suitor’s comment. But I warned my dearest love, “Hey buddy, you’d better keep your game up because I apparently have other options.”
Are you struggling to feel happy? Loved? At peace? How about trying out one or more of these ideas?
1. Email someone for no reason. Open with, “I was just thinking about you.” Ask how his day is going. Ask if there’s anything she needs that you could help with. Tell him you hope things are better regarding whatever topic you last spoke about.
2. Tell someone a joke. Your spouse. Your kid. Your coworker. Ask a stranger in line at the grocery, “Can I try out a joke on you?” (Make it a clean one.)
3. Buy or make someone a gift. When you’re out running errands pick up a greeting card or a book. If you’re an artist, make a tiny painting, sculpture, bookmark, or origami flower. If you like to bake, do one or two extra muffins or cupcakes. Give the gift to a friend or neighbor for no reason at all.
4. Feed someone. Pick up a frozen lasagna and a bottle of wine (or a pint of ice cream). Put together your family’s leftovers into a single-serve bento-style dinner box. Swing into the drive-thru and pick up two meals: one for you and one for the lady who lives alone on your street, or the friend who just had a baby, or the guy who’s batching it while his family is away.
5. Tell someone he or she is doing a great job. At whatever: “Thanks for running the office so seamlessly” or “You’re really an amazing mom/dad” or “I love the way you just ______.”
6. Leave a secret-admirer/friend gift on someone’s doorstep, under their windshield wiper, or on their work desk. A single flower, a tiny box of chocolates, a tea bag or packet of hot cocoa and a mug. No note or signature necessary.
7. Serenade somebody. Vocal talent not required. Sing You Are My Sunshine to a kiddo. Or When I’m 64 to your spouse. Or You’ve Got a Friend In Me to anybody. Extra points if you can pull off Bohemian Rhapsody or Sweet Violets. (Especially if you do it in an elevator.)
8. Ask someone to play a couple hands of cards with you. Rummy, Hearts, or just Go-Fish. When’s the last time you sat across the table from someone, got way competitive, and both begged the deck to give you the card you need?
9. Dig up an old (fun/flattering/festive, but not embarrassing) picture and tag on social media the person who’s in it with you. “You haven’t changed a bit!” is a great (with several layers of possible meaning) way to introduce it.
10. Have a Skype coffee with a long-distance friend. Set aside an hour of time together with no agenda at all. Ask what’s the best thing that’s happened in the last week. The worst? The scariest? The funniest? You’ll be surprised how fast that hour goes.
It takes very little time and energy to spread some love and kindness around your world.
And the part of my social media experiment that surprised me the most? Fulfilling my friends’ simple little requests gave me an enormous boost of joy.
Blessings and happiness, friends.