WOULD YOU LIKE TO enjoy your day today?
Sure you would. Here is one sure way to do it: Try to help others
enjoy their day more. I don't mean going around massaging people
and washing their cars. I'm talking about the way you look at
them and talk to them. This is a more useful, a more sophisticated,
and a more effective technique than you probably realize. Let
First off, we are social animals, and your
brain rewards you with pleasure when you show goodwill toward
others of your kind. Who you consider "your kind" is
up to you, and it's flexible. You can think about the fact that
this person is part of your family, your neighborhood, your company,
your city, your country, or even a member of your species. You
can think about it any way you want, so think about it in a way
that lets you feel the two of you are the same kind. Then your
friendliness and kindness toward them will trigger your brain
to make you feel good.
Second, this method takes your attention
off yourself and puts it out in the world. Even if you still
felt grumpy or tired, you wouldn't notice it as much because
your attention is off yourself. It's also true that the very
act of paying attention to yourself and your problems can make
you feel worse. It is a kind of first-stage self-help to focus
less of your attention on your own problems. This method is a
great way to do that.
And third, one of the things that effects
your mood is the tones of voice and facial expressions of the
people around you. When you try to help people, it changes how
they interact with you. When you see the change in them, it'll
change the way you feel.
how do you do it?
Other than giving them money, how can you
help people? The simplest way is with a kind of amiable extroversion.
In the American Heritage Dictionary, extroversion is "interest
in one's environment or in others as opposed to or to the exclusion
of oneself." Even when you feel withdrawn, the act of speaking
up makes you feel less introverted. It makes you feel bolder
and more alert.
Be outgoing and kind to others, especially
when you feel like withdrawing. It makes you feel better. Be
your sincere self. Avoid being phony. Don't try to act like someone
you're not. Be kind to them in your head, too.
Make others feel good and feel good about
themselves. Volunteer nice comments to people. Voluntarily say
nice things about people behind their backs and to their
face and avoid talking badly about anyone when you can.
Be helpful when and where you can. Try
to be constructive. Avoid being destructive.
It includes listening, which is a form
of reaching out to draw others out. Extroversion is a characteristic
of happy people. Look around you at the people nearby and ask
yourself, "What do they need?"
One needs a little cheering up. Another
needs a smile from you. Or for you to listen to a problem, or
show an interest, or a pat on the back, or a compliment. Or just
simple human kindness not only expressed outwardly, but
in your thoughts as well.
If you're so busy with your work you don't
have time for this stuff, then you probably don't have your own
anxieties on your mind much. Work tends to take up enough attention.
But if it doesn't, make it your personal mission to raise the
general tone of the people around you. A higher tone is needed
and wanted in this world and you can help.
a true example
Forty miles from Paris was the Forest of
Fontainebleau. Artists came from all over to paint there. It
took two days to walk from Paris to this forest, but an artist
in his early 20s, Pierre, had often done so.
One day, Pierre was painting when a dazed,
mud-splattered, ragged man stumbled out of the forest and gasped,
"Please help me! I am dying of hunger."
The ragged man was Raoul Rigaud. Pierre
fed him and heard his story. Raoul was a journalist who had opposed
France's authoritarian government in some of his writings. Now
the authorities were after him. They had surprised Raoul at his
home, but he sneaked out the window and barely escaped out of
Paris. Now he was exhausted, and had decided to give himself
up. He could not go on like this.
Pierre felt sympathy for Raoul. He convinced
Raoul not to give himself up. Pierre borrowed an artist's smock
and painting kit from a nearby village, and over the next few
weeks they spent together, Raoul became, to all eyes, just another
visiting artist to the Forest. A very grateful Raoul was eventually
able to contact friends in Paris and they arranged for him to
Years went by.
One day Pierre was painting by the Seine
river when some national guardsmen stopped to look at his work.
All of a sudden, one of the guards grabbed the painting and accused
Pierre of being a spy for the Versailles forces. He said this
painting was a painting of the Seine area showing vulnerable
points and strategic locations to guide the Versailles troops.
The guards were getting agitated, and a small group of people
had gathered. "A spy!" they shouted. The soldiers placed
poor Pierre under arrest and marched him to the town hall where
a firing squad was on permanent duty to handle things like this.
The crowd grew into a mob. They were now
shouting, "Kill him! Kill him!" But Pierre was not
a spy. He was just a poor painter.
Pierre's "trial" and conviction
was nothing more than a nod from the captain. Pierre's hands
were tied. He was dragged down to the firing squad. He closed
his eyes. This was the end.
But when he opened his eyes, he saw the
Public Prosecutor standing in front of him. The Prosecutor happened
to be passing by when he saw what was happening. "Surely
you remember me!" said the Prosecutor, and he embraced Pierre.
It was Raoul Rigaud. Because of his kindness
and optimism years before, Pierre was saved. And the world was
better off for it Pierre's artistic ability continued
to blossom, bestowing on the world a genius with color and light
and shadow. Because of his kindness to a stranger in trouble,
Pierre-Auguste Renoir had saved his own life.
Improve your own mood with acts
of kindness and extroversion toward others.