One of my mantras is that you — and you alone — are responsible for your own happiness, that it is your decision. And if no one else can “make” you happy, it stands to reason that you cannot make other people happy either. Right?
Well, sort of. Just because you can’t make someone dance doesn’t mean you can’t invite them to sit down and listen to the music. And perhaps, maybe, if the tune is catchy and everyone around them is dancing, they’ll start to sway to the beat at least a little. It is almost a universal truth that music moves us.
The same is true of Emotions. If I invite you to join a group having an upbeat, optimistic conversation, you are more likely to pick up some of that energy. You can’t give other people their emotional music, yet you can do an awful lot to create the space, the energy, and the opportunity for them to pick up a different emotional rhythm; and maybe, just maybe, they’ll dance a bit happier.
13 Ways to Create a Positive Space for Others to Feel Happier
- Help Someone… to carry something, make a call, run a meeting, stir the batter, prepare for a conversation, or fold the laundry. No matter how big or small the task, when you make a sincere offer to help, you activate in the other person their Gratitude response.
- Be Deliberately Courteous. Have you ever had a great time shopping at a store or dining out, only to have your enthusiasm dampened when a dour clerk checked you out like a robot? Do the opposite. Stop for two seconds, make eye contact, and offer a heartfelt Thank You (or You Are Welcome!). You may be the first person that day to send a ray of sunshine into that person’s dark cloud.
- Offer Praise and Appreciation. Every day, look for at least one opportunity to say Great Job or I Appreciate You/What You Did. Most people are walking around stewing in their own negative self-talk and a ceaseless barrage of criticism from others. When you remind them of their value, you reconnect them with Hope.
- Customize Your Delivery. When you have conversation with people, do it in a way that serves them. Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages demonstrates this principle in a way that really helped my marriage. I love to give presents, and for many years I felt hurt when my wife would return what I’d purchased. We took the love language “test” and learned we have very different ways of expressing and receiving love and affection. I’m sure to some people this sounds like heresy, but I rarely buy anything for my wife, now – the way she receives is through Acts of Service and Quality Time – so spending time with her or DOING things for her makes her far happier than spending money. Customize your communication and you’ll create more happiness in your relationships. You can take the Love Languages Quiz here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com
- Send a Note. Handwritten will have more impact, while email will have the advantage of speed – make a deliberate choice based on the other person’s best way of receiving.
- Tell Someone You Care About Them. Strong relationships and personal connections is one of the five pillars of Positive Emotion. When you tell someone they matter to you, you strengthen the foundation of their Happiness.
- Pay It Forward. Here’s a tip for doubling or tripling how good you feel when you receive a compliment or a thank you: Pass the same on to someone else. Leverage your good feeling when you intentionally look for a way to give appreciation or recognition to someone else. You feel even better, plus you make their day.
- Listen to Another Talk About Their Goals or Dreams. JUST listen. Give them the space to speak without being told they are being unrealistic or silly or that they have much work ahead. Open your heart large enough to hold that other person’s dreams for a moment, and you will create a rare moment of optimism and ambition
- Make a Point to Address People By Their Name. A person’s name is sacred and you honor them when you use it. Write it in your emails, say it on your voicemails. When you receive your coffee, groceries, or a bank receipt, read nametags and uses their name when you say thanks. My father-in-law is legendary in our family – he always gets the server’s name, and then uses it often. You’d be surprised at how many servers forget they even gave their name (it’s part of the “script,” right?). You create a different atmosphere when you acknowledge another’s humanity.
- Call Out Excellence. When you are impressed, say, “You are amazing!” or “I was very impressed with…” They will feel the warmth from your remark long after you leave.
- Smile At People. A) People are mirrors; we reflect back what we get. B) A smile on the face activates a complex emotional sequence that increases feelings of positivity. Add those two, and your smiles impact other’s moods as surely as the smile affects your own.
- Reach Out and Touch Someone. We crave human connection. Give a Hug, a touch on the arm, a warm handshake, or just face the other person heart-to-heart and give them full attention for a moment.
- Ask to Speak With the Manager. This is my wife’s favorite tool for making someone’s day: when we’ve had really good service at a retail or food establishment, she will ask to see a manager. 90% of the time, the reaction they signal is dread or fear. I love watching how the manager’s eyes shift from caution to joy when my wife shares a positive story.
Music moves all who are in the room to hear it. When you intentionally play a more positive note in your speaking and behavior, you set the stage for others to enjoy a bright spot that may not have occurred but for you. And who doesn’t like to be told: “You make me happy when you show up!”
So play that Happy Music, and enjoy the dance you started.