You may have heard that you can’t make someone happy, and in a way that is true. Happiness comes from within, so you can help make someone happy for a moment or two, but if they are generally not happy people, then you are not going to change their life around. However, if someone normally feels good about life and is having a hard time or just feeling upset or down, there are some things you can do to help them feel better and move out of their unhappy state.
As a bonus, when you make someone else happy, you boost your own happiness. Research has consistently shown that doing good things for other people, as opposed to doing things for yourself or doing nothing at all, increases your life satisfaction. [Source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224540903365554] And when you are a happier person, you are a kinder person, so the benefits just keep coming.
16 Tips To Make Someone Happy
Whether it is a stranger, someone you know only a little, or a loved one, the following tips on how to make someone happy can be used for everyone.
1. Believe That Everyone Cares About You
This may sound like a weird tip, but if you believe that everyone cares about you, then you are more likely to instinctively do good things for them that make them happy. When you walk around closed off and in a state of suspicion, then you are going to hold back from doing a lot of things that would make others feel good, so believe that everyone cares about you and you will be more willing to take action on their happiness.
2. Give A Compliment
Everyone feels good when they hear good things about themselves. Compliments make us feel valued, and they give us a positive boost to our thoughts and self-esteem. Unfortunately, many people don’t say the positive things they think about someone and a lot of golden opportunities on how to make someone happy slip by. Don’t let that happen to you. Make it a habit to say something positive to someone if you are thinking it.
3. Be Happy Yourself
Again, this is not a common tip on how to make someone happy, but it is very important. The best way to make other people happy is to be happy yourself. When you are miserable, complaining, pessimistic, sad, or angry, you bring other people down to your level. Your energy seeps into theirs and they start to match how you feel. But, if you are positive, grateful, joyful, and kind, your energy affects them positively and they begin to feel much happier despite their current mood.
4. Respond To Them
Just the act of responding to someone who doesn’t feel good can make them happy. This means responding to their questions and engaging in conversation, but it also means responding to their body language appropriately. For instance, if someone is sighing and obviously doesn’t feel good, the act of acknowledging how they feel will give them permission to express their concerns, which can help them feel happier. Take the time to respond to others and acknowledge that they are not feeling good, and let them get things off their chest or talk things out.
This is similar to the ‘be happy yourself’ point, but it adds an extra element to helping someone be happy. Research has shown that the smile is constantly rated as the number one thing that makes other people feel emotionally better. It has also found that smiling can be as stimulating as getting up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling (about 23,700 USD). [Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/03/22/the-untapped-power-of-smiling/] When you see someone smile, you smile. When you smile, your brain gets the messages of happiness and feel good chemicals are released. So, make smiling an important part of your routine on how to make someone happy.
6. Help Them Out
If you see a way to help someone out, do it. You will be making things easier on them, giving them a break, or relieving some stress, which are all bound to make them feel better. Moreover, the gesture to help is an act of kindness, and all acts of kindness have the potential to make someone happy.
7. Give Them Something
Giving something to someone you love has the potential to make them very happy, especially when it is something that you know they want, no matter how little it is. But, you can also give something to a stranger and make their day. I have seen strangers give each other coupons in the grocery store and watched them as they both laughed and felt good about each other and left the conversation with big smiles on their faces. Giving is the ultimate act of kindness, and I have yet to see someone scowl at a gift they get. Even giving someone your place in line can help them be happier. Giving just requires that you think about someone else and then take the time out of your day to buy or give them something, which they recognize and feel good about.
8. Recognize Their Needs
This requires some emotional intelligence, and it is a powerful way to make other people happy. If you can recognize how other people are feeling or what they are likely thinking, then you can do things to make them happy. For instance, if you see that someone is obviously feeling lonely, then you can reach out and talk to them. If you see someone is separated from someone they love on a plane, and is obviously unhappy about it, then you can offer to change seats and let them sit together. By paying attention to other people, you can recognize what will make them happier in the moment and then act on it.
9. Point Out The Positives
Unhappy people are focused on negative things. They can’t see the positive because they are so intertwined with their negative thoughts and emotions, so pointing out the positive can help snap them out of their focus, see something better, and start moving towards more happiness. This will work for many people. However, not everyone is going to want to hear positive things. Some people are enjoying their negative state (even if they don’t know it) and will get upset if you point out something positive, so give it your best shot, but be prepared for a dirty look and a backlash of why things are not as positive as you pointed out!
10. Care About Everyone
Pretending that everyone cares about you is a great way to relate to people better, but you can also genuinely care about everyone else. When you care about everyone, you are more inclined to be interested in their life and respond to them in a way that they need to be responded to. Watch the Dalai Lama talk to people and you will see that one of the aspects that make other people around him happy is that he genuinely cares about them and their questions or concerns. When you care, you love, and when you love, you naturally say and do things in kindness that help others to be happy. Therefore, keep in mind that everyone you meet could be fighting an internal battle you know nothing about, and be kind as you keep in mind that their negativity comes from some place you can’t see.
11. Give Them Space
If someone needs space, the best thing you can do is give them that space. Often, people need to work through their unhappiness before they can start to feel better, and if you are stressing them out or taking them away from the thoughts that they need to process before they can feel better, then you are standing in the way of their happiness, despite your best intentions. If someone seems like they need space or asks for space, give them that space.
12. Make Them Laugh
You may not be able to make them smile, but if you can make them laugh, then you have the power to make them happy. You know this yourself. When you laugh, you instantly feel better. Your focus gets taken off your negative thoughts and you relax and see things in a brighter way. You don’t have to personally make someone else laugh with a joke. You can turn on a funny show or go to a comedy club to find someone else who can make them laugh and feel happier.
13. Post Positive Things Online
A lot of people are unhappy and looking for something uplifting online. Unfortunately, they are met with negative news, negative people, and negative pictures, which just adds to their unhappiness. I know some days I just want to shut my computer down and not get back on it because the online world can be such an unhappy place.
However, you have the power to be someone who stands out and makes someone happy by posting positive things on your social profiles, or by starting a positive blog. It makes a difference! A friend of mine recently switched out from posting negative things on her Facebook profile to posting uplifting and positive things, and she has had much more interaction on her profile because of it. People feel good when they see good, so make your online presence count and you won’t just make someone happy, you will make many people happy.
14. Pick Up The Tab
People expect to have to pay for things they want. A dinner, a coffee, or an entrance fee into a park are all things that people know they have to pay for. If you can pick up the tab once in a while, you can save someone a few bucks that they can spend somewhere else, and I guarantee that will make someone happy. You can do it for your friends, family, and coworkers, but you can also do it for strangers.
For instance, if you are in line at a coffee shop drive-through, listen to the person ordering behind you and decide if you can afford to pay for their order. If you can, pay for it. You will make their day, and as a bonus, you will make the cashier’s day as they witness an act of kindness that doesn’t happen that often.
15. Make Them Feel Useful
If someone is feeling down, they are not feeling very good about themselves. If you can make them feel useful, then you can improve their perception of themselves and help them feel happier. This is so easy to do that there is no reason you can’t do it with anyone. Asking someone to open a jar is often enough to make them feel useful. However, you can ask for all sorts of things that require their knowledge or assistance, even if it seems a bit weird.
For instance, I once saw a woman buying frozen cherries. I could tell she wasn’t feeling good because of her body language. I actually saw her roll her eyes at someone as she passed them. I quickly asked her if she thought those cherries would be good in a pie because I was planning to make one. She proceeded to tell me how she used the cherries and how good they are, and she instantly lit up as she talked. We talked for a few minutes and she gave me some helpful hints, and I told her that she sold me on them and I would give them a try. As she was walking away, she turned around and said, “You made my day! Thank you.” It was such a simple thing that you wouldn’t expect to make someone happy, but it did.
16. Do Unto Others As You Want Done To You
This is a great rule to remember as you deal with unhappy people in any context. Put yourself in their situation and think about what you would want them to do for you. You will find that answers will come up, sometimes answers you don’t expect, and you can easily figure out what actions you can take to help that person be happier. This doesn’t always mean that you will make someone happy, but because we all share a sense of what makes us happy, there is a very good chance of it and it is totally worth the effort.