We’ve all had that day where things just keep going wrong and we wish we could go to sleep and start over. And then the clerk in checkout will admire our earrings, or you’ll get into a fun conversation with the guy at the bookstore, or a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time will send you an email and everything suddenly looks much brighter and better.
We don’t know when other people are having a hard time and need something to pick them up. There’s no specific warning messages that tell you “Oh, I should do something nice for that person.”But the saying “What goes around comes around” seems to hold true in a very odd, balanced sort of way, and giving something to other people can be as cheering to you as it is to them. So here are a few simple ways to brighten someone’s day.
We all love compliments, though some admit it more than others. In the world of social networking this has become even easier as people post pictures and selfies on Facebook, Twitter, an Instagram on a regular basis. It can be a compliment on their physical appearance, or it can just be a simple not of appreciation for them as a person. Maybe you’re too smart to get into internet debates but really appreciated the way they stood up to a cyberspace bully. Send them a message saying as much and if they rant for ten minutes smile and let them. They’ll walk away feeling so much better about themselves.
Gifts don’t have to be big, elaborate things. Especially in real life it’s easy to pick up a second-hand book, a cute mug, a knick-knack or a favorite food and give it someone in your life. They’ll be astonished that you thought about them, excited over the present, and probably give you a huge. Candy is the way to the heart of any child, or awkward social gathering. If you’re a creator then believe me, everyone secretly wants to own something you make but isn’t sure they want it bad enough to pay. It’s both a very personal gift and gratifying to feel important enough that you were willing to give it.
Let’s face it, we all want more money. We work jobs we hate, we accept more hours, we scrimp and save just so we can have enough money to do…whatever it is we want to do. There never seems to be enough money to go around for everything. Even rich people feel like they’re perpetually caught in that state of “Not quite enough.” There are things everybody wants to spend money on that are considered luxuries, so they rarely get out to do them.
I’m not talking about “here, let me support you for the rest of your life.” Money can be a gift like anything else. Little things like a $5 Starbucks card, or an Amazon gift card (because seriously, who doesn’t need more Amazon credit?) or tipping someone who doesn’t usually expect it. (When someone gives me a tip at Subway it totally makes my day.) A gift card to your favourite restaurant often has the added benefit of that friend asking you to go to lunch there with them.
I think this is actually more beneficial to the giver than the receiver. There is literally nothing more fun than sending a gift to someone anonymously and then watch them get all excited and run around demanding to know who it was. Or maybe you don’t see it, and imagine them doing it in private because you don’t know them that well. Either way you sleep really well that night knowing you’ve totally made someone’s day and they don’t even know it was you. This also removes any danger of reciprocal giving.
When you call a friend for a recipe and she tells you that her dryer isn’t working and the kids haven’t had supper yet and she doesn’t know how everyone is going to get baths in time for church the next morning your initial response might to be to sympathize, laugh and little, and hope she gets it sorted out. If you do this–you’re doing it wrong. The most powerful gift you can give to anyone is to be there when they need it. Loaning them that piece of baking equipment they’re missing, letting them use your washer and drier when theirs quit working, helping them with homework when that finals deadline looms ever closer, offering to babysit so the parents can have an evening out–giving without expecting anything in return, that’s the best kind of giving there ever was. If you want real friends that will be there for you in a time of crisis then start building those relationships now. It will come in handy when the apocalypse strikes.
We’re all isolated in a world crowded with people. Especially young people, we talk all the time and never say anything at all. We’re open and honest with our thoughts on Twitter and Facebook because we know no one is listening anyway. We’re so used to being ignored that we take it for granted nobody cares.
Being a voice in that emptiness of isolation is a great way to make someone feel there’s hope in the world after all. If you notice someone is having a bad day, instead of being embarrassed and looking away say “Hey, I’m here. I feel your pain.” You don’t have to know the details. You don’t have to solve all their problems. Most people don’t expect that anyway. All they want is a sympathetic ear–some sign that it’s not all futile, that someone is listening. An ecard that says “You are special.” A funny pic and the message “This made me think of you.” The less well you know a person the more effective this is. And it can make all the difference between a really terrible day, and one that might turn out to be okay.
And then one day, when you really need it, maybe someone will do something for you.