Tamera_colorcloseupblog Happiness has been coming up a lot in my conversations recently.  It may be due to the holiday season or because organizations are conducting annual reviews and people are reflecting about the satisfaction they receive in their jobs or because we’re approaching a new year in which many of us set new goals for ourselves.

As I’ve been reflecting on happiness, I know the age-old saying is true: happiness is a state of mind and comes from within; however, I also believe that my happiness is reinforced when I know I’m making a difference – even in a small way – for someone else. A recent post from an online devotional I subscribe to summed it up well: “Help me walk securely in my relationship with You {God} and to be a contributor in the settings in which You’ve {God has} placed me.”

While I love this holiday season, I get caught up in all there is “to do” and thinking that if I do what makes me happy, it will make others happy, too – big mistake!  I do know that there are some “basics” that I can do to contribute to the happiness of others in my everyday living, including:

  1. Laughing with someone – We often laugh because we're happy, but laughing can also make us happy - and healthy. Laughter releases endorphins that give us a euphoric feeling.  So find a reason to laugh, whether it’s sharing a funny story, watching a silly movie, or just “lightening up” a situation.  Our entire team got a FANTASTIC belly laugh from an “elf-o-gram” that my colleague Krista Remer made for our team to help us celebrate the holiday season – click here to laugh with five of the Convergence team members and click here for the other five members.  Elf yourself, your family, team or someone else and get a laugh, too!
  2. Stopping to smell the roses – or at this time of year in Minnesota, admiring the snow-covered trees and glistening icicles hanging off of them.  When I take a moment to enjoy nature with someone, we are both refreshed and grounded in the beauty that life is, which makes us more peaceful and content.
  3. Telling someone that you love them – or thanking them for doing a good job, telling them you appreciate them, or congratulating them on a victory or project they completed.  Validating another person tells them that they’re important, increases their self-worth, and esteem – all increasing their – and our -- sense of happiness.
  4. Forgiving someone or letting them be “right” – it’s hard to be happy ourselves when we are holding a grudge – and we could make it easier for the other person to be happy by forgiving a “wrong.”  And, forgiving doesn’t mean condoning it; it simply means pardoning it – letting go of the past and moving forward.
  5. Paying it forward – this is a perfect time of year to donate to your favorite charity, sponsor a child or a family so they can celebrate the holidays with a little more cheer, or pay for someone’s coffee at Starbucks.  My friend told me she was at breakfast with her husband this past weekend and they were listening to the family sitting next to them converse.  All but one of them was sharing how they were out of work.  My friend went up to the cashier and paid for that table’s breakfast anonymously.  I’m sure that family left happier than when they came in.
  6. Smiling – happy people are easier to work with – and to be with – and people are more motivated and more willing to tackle a difficult project when they are doing so for someone who is smiling at them (who wants to work for a grump?!).
  7. “Hanging out” with someone - As my partner Jack Lee quoted in his blog, We Are Meant To Be Together, Holly H. Schiffrin, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington, states, “The No. 1 predictor of happiness across studies and cultures is good relationships. Spending time with the people we care about increases positive feelings as well as building social support that we can call on in times of need.” We can go to lunch and “hang” with someone and spread happiness at work or call a friend in the evening and go for a walk (see number 2).

I would love to be able to say that I will do one of these things with each person that I interact with throughout my day; however, I know that I would be setting myself up for failure.  I can commit to do at least one of these things once a day, though, to share my happiness with someone else.   As Mark Twain said, "Whoever is happy will make others happy, too." 

By the way, if you’re not feeling so happy, you can be happy in a moment by doing any of the things I listed – or whatever is on your list – and focus on making someone else happy.  I promise you’ll get happier in return! 

Happiness is contagious. Who can you spread happiness or cheer with?  What else can we do – or say – to lift up others and experience happiness during the day?  Post a comment and share – we’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy the holiday season – it’s the happiest season of all!