If you want happiness for an hour; take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day; go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month; get married.
If you want happiness for a year; inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime; help someone else.
– Chinese proverb
Sometimes we find ourselves in a stubbornly bad mood – where every little thing that happens throughout the day just rubs us wrong and nothing can make us happy. It can be really hard to break out of a mood like that, no matter how much you try to breathe and relax.
But as it turns out, focusing your attention to someone else’s happiness can actually be the secret to getting back to a happy place yourself. It’s very similar to the practice of forcing your face to smile when you’re feeling sad. You might not feel like being nice to anyone when you’re grumpy, but doing so is almost guaranteed to make you feel better.
What counts as compassion?
Anything considerate or kind you do for another person – no matter how small the action seems – counts as compassion. Think of the Golden Rule, and “Do Unto Others.” It can be as simple as letting someone merge in front of you during rush hour, or as major as volunteering at a homeless shelter.
Why does being nice make us happy?
In reality, not everyone is nice and warm and huggy. Some people really are grumpy and bitter a lot of the time. But everyone knows what it feels like to have something really thoughtful done for them, and everyone can appreciate that. So seeing the look of gratitude on someone’s face, or hearing it in their voice is something we can relate to deep down – and also makes us feel appreciated!
Start with yourself!
There’s actually a meditation focused on “Loving Kindness” that is meant to teach us how to be kind to ourselves and others. According to Loving Kindness Meditation, there are four types of persons to focus on:
• Yourself, first
• A respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher
• A dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend
• A neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards
• And finally, a hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with
So the next time you’ve got a storm cloud hanging over your head that you just can’t get rid of, try brightening someone else’s day! Buy a toy for a child or pet, surprise your partner with a night out, call a long-distance relative. Anything that might put a smile on someone else’s face.
And if you need help learning to love yourself and sharing that love with others, call us here or schedule an appointment online! Our therapists specialize in every skill you need to put a smile back on your face.