Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever leave without leaving happier.Mother Teresa
Happiness is something we all strive for, but seems to be more and more difficult to grasp. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped our already strained mental health. Anxiety and depression are on the rise with estimates for depressive disorder increasing by 28% and anxiety disorder climbing by 26% across the globe. Most of us feel like we’re burning the candle at both ends and we have no kindness left to give to ourselves, let alone to others.
It’s times like these when we need to be kind and spread happiness more than ever.
That’s what “I Want You to be Happy Day” is all about. On March 3rd, this National Day encourages us to find ways to make other people happy, but even more importantly, it encourages us to see happiness from other’s points of view so we can best serve their needs instead of focusing on our own.
Simple ways to be kind, like smiling at others in the grocery store and surprising someone you love with flowers are a good place to start, but if you really want to spread happiness in honor of “I Want You to be Happy Day,” practice active helping.
Active Helping Versus Passive Helping
In order to understand exactly what active helping is, you also have to understand passive helping.
Passive helping is about waiting until you’re needed before you’re helpful. That might mean relaxing on the couch until your partner asks you to take out the trash or bringing chicken noodle soup after a friend tells you they are sick and asks if you would drop off dinner.
You can spread happiness by helping as soon as you’re asked, but this also has the potential to make those around you feel unseen or misunderstood, and ultimately, less happy.
Over time, passive helping actually affects romantic relationships in negative ways. Significant others, often times women, feel like they are the CEO of the household, divvying up responsibilities among other family members. It means on partner bears the weight of responsibility in the form of mental load. This creates an environment where one person tries to keep track of and do everything themselves until they explode, at which point the other partner says, “You should have asked for help!”
And sometimes, it can also make friends drift apart. Even if you always say ‘yes’ when asked, if your friend feels like they are the only one reaching out, coming up with fun things to do, and inviting you over, they will eventually stop asking, and your friendship will fall apart.
Active helping is different. It means seeing what someone needs and taking action before they have to ask. Instead of waiting for your partner to ask you to take out the garage, you do it as soon as you notice the trash is full. Instead of waiting for your sick friend to get a hold of you, leave chicken noodle soup on their doorstep when you know they are sick.
Asking for help is hard, which is why most people don’t do it. Active helping is a great way to spread happiness because it makes people feel seen. It creates deeper romantic and platonic relationships, and it can create ore long-lasting happiness compared to passive helping and simple gestures, like giving gifts.
How to Be a Better Active Helper to Boost Someone Else’s Happiness
Passive helping is much easier than active helping, which is why so many people wiat until someone asks them for help, saying “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help” isn’t actually helpful. Thinking about how someone can be helpful feels like even more work than just doing it yourself!
It takes work with active helping, but if you learn how to anticipate people’s needs and act on them before they have to ask, you can have a huge impact on the happiness of those around you.
Start by opening up your awareness to the things that are happening around you. Put away your phone and observe what others are doing.
Then, try and view what you’re seeing through an empathetic lens. If your partner seems distant and cold, try to understand why instead of immediately getting defensive. Are they feeling lonely or overwhelmed? If so, maybe there are things you can do to make your partner’s life easier. Make lists of things that need to get done instead of asking. Offer to be the primary contact for children at school. Or fold the laundry before your partner has a chance to do it.
Active helping creates stronger, happier communities too. Hold open a door for someone whose hands are full. Leave a good review for local business. Or, shovel the neighbor’s driveway before they get home from work.
How Active Helping Makes You Happier Too
Those around you are happier with active helping, and it has the power to make you happier too.
Being more in tune with the needs of others will make you feel more connected to your family and your community. Kindness also has a way multiplying, which means you will likely receive more kindness in return.
It also comes with some serious physical and mental benefits, like:
- Increased energy levels
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved mood
- Aging more slowly
- Reduced feelings of stress
Not to mention, being kind and spreading happiness just feels good!
Make it a point this “I Want You to be Happy Day” to not only practice simple ways to be kind, but to dig deeper to understand what acts of kindness others would truly appreciate. When you start practicing active helping and see how much joy it brings to those around you, you’ll want to keep doing it long after “I Want You to be Happy Day” is over.