I’ve been watching Oprah’s Lifeclass and one of her lessons was about spreading joy. The example she gave was when she gave a brand new car away to each and every one of her audience members. That was real joy spreading if you remember. There were people screaming, crying and jumping up and down. She said the the high she got off that show was unparallelled.
It’s true — doing nice things for people makes you feel better and lifts your mood. But not everyone can give someone a new car! Here’s a list of small and free gestures you can make to improve someone’s day:
1. Smile: It’s simple and free! I’ve started doing this whenever I talk to someone. Sometimes it feels forced but I always do it. When ordering at the deli or walking into a building with a doorman — I smile at the person helping me. Instantly it brightens their face too.
2. Take a Flyer: If you’re a New Yorker like me — you know how annoying people can be on the street handing out coupons and flyers. I’ve embraced this irritating habit. Next time someone shoves a flyer in your face — take it. No one likes to be rejected — that person is just doing her job and you’ll make it a little easier by simply being easy going. You can throw it out on the next corner or who knows, maybe you’ll even need the information.
3. Send a Note: People don’t send cards enough these days. I’m a total stationary freak — so I appreciate all kinds of paper. Send someone a personalized, handwritten note to just say hi. It will lift that person’s spirits when they receive a happy note and not another bill in the mail! Or write a sweet message on a Post-it note and stick it to a mirror or computer monitor.
4. Listen: Sometimes people just want to be heard. I’ve learned that this will help you be an extraordinary friend. You don’t always have to have a solution — sometimes the best remedy is just hearing someone out and letting him vent.
5. Say Thank You: When someone does something nice for you — in a store or restaurant or on the street — say thank you! And really mean it. Give credit where credit is due. People like positive reinforcement for a job well done.
6. Share: Lend someone your favorite book, give away your favorite cookie recipe, e-mail a cute picture of a dog, tell a funny story or a joke. Spreading joy can be really simple — start with stuff that you like. Isn’t that how “Oprah’s Favorite Things” was born after all?