- Michael Thompson
Today is my birthday. I’m officially 42 years young. The biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far in life is the key to misery is found in constantly thinking about yourself.
If you want to be happy, you have to build the habit of making other people a priority and doing what you can to make their day a little bit better.
So instead of racking my brain for 42 lessons the world has taught me as I’d normally do on my birthday. I’m going to mix things up by sharing something more important: 42 proven ways to make someone crack a smile or in some cases maybe even laugh a little.
The best part about most of the ideas below is they’ll still allow you plenty of time to think about yourself as the majority of them are pretty easy.
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
- Grab your partner while you are shopping, look them in the eye, and tell them in a sultry voice they’re the most attractive person in this aisle of the supermarket.
- Instead of complimenting someone on their appearance or fashion taste, tell them you love the way they think.
- Scroll through your phone until you find someone you had a falling out with. Then send them a message with these 3 words: “I’m an ass.”
- Make coffee at home for a month instead of buying White Chocolate Pumpkin Cinnamon Lattes at Starbucks. Then take the money you saved and buy something of real value for someone who can’t afford coffee with whipped cream. Jackets, blankets, a few nights of sleep in a warm place, or a donation to somewhere that provides assistance to the underprivileged is a good start.
- If a young person is working on something they are clearly passionate about, tell them they have talent and how much you admire their focus.
- Ask an elderly person for advice and sit down and listen to their stories (actually do this with young people and people your own age also).
- Let the parent struggling with their kids waiting in line at the supermarket go ahead of you and then tell them you don’t know how they do it.
- Mail a thank you card to someone who has helped you along in your journey citing one specific piece of advice that improved your life.
- Buy an extra bottle of wine the next time you go shopping and leave it for the cashier.
- The next time you catch a whiff of something that smells funny ask the person next to you if they can give you a diaper — just seeing if you’re still with me;)
- Call someone on their birthday, write them a nice email, or better yet, send them a card saying what they mean to you. Facebook is fine I guess. Making an extra effort is better.
- Let your parents-in-law know that you really appreciate all they do for you and thank them for making such a terrific human being.
- Leave notes on the mirrors of public bathrooms like, “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” Or one my father-in-law thought was funny — “People may stink sometimes but love them anyway.”
- Hide little notes around the house telling your partner they’re the hottest person on this floor of your apartment building (again, when giving compliments be specific. According to the experts it shows you care and you’re paying attention).
- Don’t just hold the door for someone today and every day thereafter, but make an effort to smile or at least give a head nod.
- Play part of a song you and a friend used to rock out to over voicemail and remind them of a stupid thing they did when they were wasted.
- The next time you meet with a friend tell them they look good.
- Every time you buy something with a credit card act surprised after it was approved and say to the cashier, “That pin actually worked? I just found that card on the street.”
- Send a message to someone you met this past year telling them how much you’ve enjoyed getting to know them.
- When someone makes a mistake let them know they wouldn’t feel so bad about it if they followed you around for a day.
- Put a ridiculous picture of yourself on your partner’s screensaver.
- When someone’s had a bad day, shut up and listen.
- The next time you walk by someone who does a job we take for granted like a janitor, server, or the person who delivers your mail, stop and ask them their name before thanking them for taking care of you.
- Tell your boss (or a company you work with if you’re self-employed) how much you’ve learned by working with another team member.
- Let your elderly neighbor know you are going to the store and ask them if they need anything. If they say no, bring them back a cold beer and a box of Captain Crunch anyway.
- Share the work of someone who recently began doing something they are clearly passionate about.
- Do what you can to give someone who doesn’t have as many opportunities as other people a start. Out-on-a-limb job recommendations or getting their work on the radar of someone who works in their desired field takes all of a minute.
- Send a note to the parent of one of your friends who recently joined Facebook letting them know that thanks to their creation your life isn’t as miserable as it used to be.
- Proactively seek out new writers or creators who you see something in and tell them how much you enjoy their work.
- Keep track of the goals of the people you care about and congratulate them when they reach one of them.
- Any time someone says they have an interview, talk coming up, or anything else that has made them nervous, write the date down on your calendar and either send them a boost before their event or after to see how it went.
- Whenever someone says something that impacts you, tell them you love the way they see the world and how damn interesting they are.
- On your birthday bring everyone in the office breakfast and thank them for working with you. They do this in Spain and I can’t help but think it’s smart.
- The next time you find yourself arguing about something that really doesn’t matter, stop and say, “You’re probably right. Sorry for being an ass.”
- Ask your partner to run an errand for you after work and surprise them with their favorite dinner.
- Share the work of a stranger on Linkedin with a comment that the person is doing interesting work.
- Reach out to an elderly person and ask them if they want to go for a walk.
- Whenever you read a book that someone you know may like, buy it for them and attach a little sarcastic note letting them know it will help them to be more interesting in conversations.
- Write down the names of the kids of the people you meet and ask about little Simon by name the next time you meet.
- When your partner has a bad day, build a fort in the family room and watch a movie in it.
- Print out and frame a picture you know a friend will hate of themselves and send it to them.
- Follow my childhood friend
Max Kleinand encourage him to keep writing because it’s clear he’s got a knack for it. Plus, he’s funny.
So there you have it — 42 ways to make someone smile or maybe even laugh a little.
My goal for next year is to hopefully write this list a little faster.
Thank you for supporting my articles this past year.
It means the world.
If you enjoyed this article you may also get a kick out of what happened when I asked women what they really want.