Usually, we are concerned with how to make ourself happy, but ironically one of the best ways to gain satisfaction and fulfilment is to help others find a path to happiness. These are a few suggestions to help make others happy.
Be happy yourself. We tend to share whatever we have. If we are unhappy or frustrated, we either consciously or unconsciously share that with other people. If we can be cheerful and positive, this will be the best contribution to helping others feel it too. There is an old saying that joy is contagious. If we can cultivate happiness, we will see how it spreads to other people.
Wish happiness for others. The human mind often unconsciously feels resentment when others are happy. It is difficult to see others happier or more successful than we are. This is the lower human nature of jealousy, pride and other undivine qualities. To sincerely wish for the happiness of others is a very important step. If we can always remember to offer good will and happiness to others, then we will really be able to make both ourselves and other people happy.
Listen and don’t judge. We don’t make others happy by telling them all their weakness and what they need to change! This will simply hurt them and make them defensive. If we see a friend in trouble, sometimes we simply need to listen without judgement.
“Be kind, be all sympathy,
for each and every human being
is forced to fight against himself.”
– Sri Chinmoy1
Listening to others helps them find their own solutions and see a way forward. If we can avoid judging or telling someone else what to do, then that person may eventually become ask us for some practical advice. If we see someone doing something that is clearly taking away their happiness, we may be able to find a way to help them without sounding harsh and judgmental. But first we need to gain their trust by being sympathetic.
Acceptance not expectation. We place a big burden on other people when we have high expectations of them. Parent often expect their children to live a certain way. Even friends may have strong expectations. These expectation can easily lead to frustration for both us and our friends or relatives. To make others happy, we have to respect their choices and accept their character. If we are always expecting to change them or “improve” them, then we will be strangling their sense of freedom. But, if we can value their aspirations – even if they differ from our own – then they will be grateful to you and feel free to follow their own way.
Appreciation. There is a big difference between sincere appreciation and flattery. If we flatter other people, we may think we are pleasing them, but really it is a false happiness because we are just boosting their ego. However, if we appreciate others in a sincere way, then they will definitely be happy. Everyone likes to have some recognition and appreciation. Appreciation means taking the time to recognise the good achievements and good intentions of other people. However, don’t appreciate only those who are very popular already. Many people who are doing good things may be wholly unappreciated, and if we offer them our gratitude and recognition, it will definitely inspire them to continue doing good things. Rather than flattering their ego, our appreciation can be given in order to thank them for what they have done and to encourage them to do more.
Give. The real secret to making others happy is giving. On a very basic level, this can be giving material gifts or financial help. This has its place, though we have to be careful. Some parents who spoil their children with monetary gifts, fail to give much more important qualities like love and concern. True giving is self-giving, which means giving unconditionally with a feeling of oneness. If we are willing to selflessly give our time and genuine concern, then we can help others to grow into their highest self. Self-giving doesn’t mean we give in to the demands or desires of others. Fulfilling their desires may not make them or us happy. Sometimes self-giving means rejecting their demands while showing them there may be a better way to happiness. If we have an attitude of genuine self-giving, we won’t have feelings of superiority or inferiority – only a feeling of oneness and genuine wishes for others’ happiness.
Don’t worry; have faith. Parents may love their children, but at the same time strangle them with worry and concern. This anxious kind of love is unhealthy for both parties. We should love with a certain detachment, as excessive worrying won’t keep them from harm or make them happy. If we can cultivate faith within ourselves, we will provide our loved ones with the strength and courage .
The wonderful secret in helping other people find their own path to happiness is that it is one of the most effective ways of creating our own inner happiness. If you are struggling to be happy yourself, try smiling and making others happy. It really works!
- Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants, Part 129, Agni Press, 1990. [↩]