Look, let’s be honest for a minute. Sometimes, you just need a little extra joy in your life. Joy just for the sake of joy. Not because it’s Christmas or summer or you’re on vacation, or it’s your birthday. Just because.
You probably don't need an explanation for why happiness and joy are important; after all, isn't being happy sort of the entire point? But, the truth is, happiness can lead to all kinds of other benefits, like living longer and making more money.
One of the best ways to boost your own happiness is to spread joy to others. And happy people are more generous. So, making other people happy will make you happier, which will make you want to do more for others, which will make them happy, which will make you happier, which will make you want to do more for others... Do you see where I'm going with this? You can spread joy, making yourself happier in the process.
But how do you go about doing that? Walk around with a big smile on your face? Play "Walkin' on Sunshine" on a loop? Throw glitter everywhere you go?
I'm not saying those ideas won't work. But here are some other, possibly more practical ways you can spread joy to others, and give yourself some extra joy in the process.
Share Something Fun, Silly, or Sweet
It's so common now that it practically goes without saying, but sharing funny, sweet, or cute media really does spread joy. In one study, people who were placed in a situation meant to increase stress were then shown a piece of media. People who were shown media intended to produce positive emotions overcame their stress faster than those shown media that was neutral or negative. My favorite recent example is this Twitter thread asking people to share stories of the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for them. Share that with anyone who needs a boost; it's sure to make them feel some joy.
Cook or Bake for Someone
Food is an incredible way to spread joy in a tangible form. We have a strong emotional connection to food. Cooking is nurturing and creates bonds. When someone cooks food for us, it creates an instant connection and feeling of gratitude and joy. When someone literally nourishes you, the joy it brings has a physical, and lasting weight.
Acknowledge Small Victories
Everyone needs a win, even if they aren't starting a new job, graduating from college, or getting married. It can take a lot of effort to do things that may not seem like a big deal to anyone else. Having that effort recognized by someone else can really make you feel great. So, be on the lookout for other people's small victories and give them a little boost. One great way to do this is to leave positive comment cards at stores or restaurants for great service.
Give a Gift
Sending a gift to someone on a special occasion is a great way to make them feel loved. But, have you ever gotten a gift for no reason? It makes you feel incredible. Because everyone is supposed to be thinking about you on your birthday. But when you get a gift on some random Tuesday, you know someone was thinking about you, even when they didn't have to be. EvaBot curates a catalog of amazing gifts and lets gift recipients chat with a friendly chatbot to make sure they get something they will love. It's a company practically built around spreading joy; their tagline is "Happiness Every Day."
Offer Help (or Hope)
Sometimes people are just having a Bad Day. You know the kind. Where one thing after another just seems to go wrong. The thing is, usually, we don’t know if someone else is having a Bad Day because we only see a small portion of their day. So, you may see a woman whose credit card gets declined at the grocery store, but you didn’t see that she also got a flat tire, had a kid get sick at daycare, and lost a job (because she couldn’t work due to the flat tire and sick kid). Some help with any of those things - a friend offering to watch her sick kid, a passerby offering to change her tire, or a stranger offering to cover her groceries - would make all the difference. So, when you see those opportunities, offer to help. Don’t wait until someone asks; just offer the help, and see how that Bad Day can turn into a Good Day (or at least an Okay Day).
I may have mocked playing "Walkin' on Sunshine" earlier, but there are some tunes that you just cannot hear without tapping your foot and smiling, no matter what else is going on. Whether it's "Walkin' on Sunshine," or (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," or "Jump (For My Love)," putting on a song and dancing around like a fool will lift your spirits every time. And, it will lift the spirits of anyone who sees you, so keep spreading that joy.
Spreading joy is its own reward. And it's something you can do every single day; you don’t have to wait for a special occasion or holiday. So, get out there and spread some joy today!