Explore this Article
1Saying the Right Things
2Promoting Happiness with Actions
3Helping a Stranger Feel Happy
Co-authored byTasha Rube, LMSW
Last Updated: May 17, 2021References
Do you have a friend who is feeling down at the moment, maybe from a breakup or family troubles? As a decent person, you may feel it’s your duty to cheer up a friend who’s having a tough time. Being the bearer of happiness can be a highly rewarding position, and even make you feel better in the process! You can use both your words and actions to bring happiness to friends, family members, and even to those you have never met.
Method 1 of 3:Saying the Right Things
Offer encouragement. If someone you know is going through a difficult time in her life, offer words of encouragement. Encouragement is positive feedback focused toward effort or progress rather than results. Telling a friend that you can see her positive change or progress could make all the difference. You could say things like:
- “You are strong.”
- “You can get through this.”
- “It’s only temporary.”
- “You gave it your best shot!”
Assure her that you are there to listen. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just be there to listen. Some friends may not want or need to hear you say possibly cliché things, and instead just want to listen while she vents. A good way to approach this is to ask your friend, “What do you need from me?” and reassure her that you are there for support.
- Listening is just as important as talking. To be a good listener, be fully present in the conversation (put your phone away), be empathetic, and pose significant and appropriate follow-up questions to draw out more information. Actively listening involves paraphrasing or asking clarifying questions, such as “If I’m hearing you right, you’re saying…” or “So, you’re feeling…?”
- Don’t be too pushy while offering help. Ask once or twice, and then don’t probe any further. Every friend is different in how she deals with situations or unhappiness, and some may become frustrated when constantly asked, “What can I do?” or “Are you okay?”
Offer sincere compliments. Everyone likes to be complimented. Telling your unhappy friend how great she looked in that shirt or how well she handled a certain situation will help boost her self-confidence and make her feel better about herself. She may even be happily surprised that you noticed.
- Compliments also build trust, so complimenting your friend might help her open up to you about the real cause of her unhappiness.  Just make sure that the compliment is genuinely felt on your behalf.
- (Video) This video will make you Happy! 😀
Tell a joke. When a friend is unhappy, one of the easiest ways to bring a smile and begin the transition to happiness is to crack a joke and make her smile. Humor has psychological benefits including coping with stress and grief. In fact, people who experienced laughter when discussing their deceased spouse adjusted more readily and fully in the years following the death.
- You can tell a corny joke, share a funny personal story, or just be silly. Humor has the added bonus of getting your friend’s mind off the situation causing her distress.
- Be cautious with your humor. Know your audience and the kind of humor she appreciates. You might not want to make a joke at the expense of someone else, or joke about a situation too soon. Judge each situation independently. A good rule of thumb is to tell a funny story or joke totally unrelated to the event causing the unhappiness.
Method 2 of 3:Promoting Happiness with Actions
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Take your unhappy friend to a movie. Distract your unhappy friend by taking him to a movie, dinner, coffee, a concert, or anyplace you two hang out. The goal is to get his mind off the situation that is making him upset. When a person is sad, he may ruminate, focusing all of his attention on what’s going wrong. Distract your friend from this tendency by breaking up his routine.
- Your unhappy friend might initially decline the invite, but be persistent. It is easier to stay inside and be sad, than to face the world. Fresh air and activity is energizing and can promote happiness.
Leave or send positive notes to your unhappy friends. Send a heartfelt note to a friend that you know is unhappy. It doesn’t matter what the note says, just as long as your friend knows you are thinking about him and wishing him well.
- A note could contain inspiring phrases like, “You’re awesome” or “Nothing can stand in your way!” Another option is to write a long letter describing how much his friendship means to you. Send these letters in the mail, so the person unexpectedly receives them. You could also leave sticky notes around his office or home.
Be spontaneous. Do something unexpected for your friend. Have food delivered, buy him a favorite dessert, clean his apartment, send a silly video message, or decorate his desk to spread the love. An unexpected act of kindness may help your friend through a rocky period and make you feel good, too.
- Be extra thoughtful by personalizing each unexpected act. Consider his favorite foods, hobbies, and other things he likes. Make him a mix CD filled with music you have jammed out with together or give him a poster of his favorite comic book character.
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Be happy yourself. Spread joy by being joyful. Happiness is contagious; it is difficult to be unhappy when you are surrounded by happy people. Happiness can literally be infectious. A simple smile at a stranger has the power to lift that person’s spirit.
- When you are around unhappy people, do your best not to be dragged down by their unhappiness, and instead, be as happy as you possibly can. Smile, be friendly, talk with others, and tell jokes. However, if a friend is sad, don’t be inconsiderate of their situation. Just let him now you are trying to cheer him up.
Method 3 of 3:Helping a Stranger Feel Happy
Engage in small acts of kindness towards strangers. Buy coffee for the person behind you, swipe your MetroCard (or other public transportation payment method) for another person, or hold the door for a large group to help spread good deeds. Doing a small act of kindness will help spread happiness beyond the people you immediately help, by encouraging those you make happy to pay it forward and perform their own acts of kindness.
- Try doing five random acts of kindness each day and writing about the experience. Five acts of kindness per day can help lift your own spirits, increase your self-esteem, and bring joy to others.
Smile. Smiles are contagious and are a terrific but simple way to make another happy. Science shows that your brain function changes and your mood instantly improves when you see another person smile. Smiling can influence a person to become more positive, optimistic, and motivated.
- Smile at someone in the subway or in line for lunch. This simple act is sure to improve at least one person’s day.
- Smile in moderation and do not be too obvious about it. This might come across as ‘creepy’ and turn people off. A simple lifting of your cheeks is enough to send a subtle smile to someone else.
Volunteer your time to people in need. Sharing your time will help you feel better and bring happiness to others. Donating money to organizations is a wonderful act of kindness, but you don’t necessarily have to have money to help. You can donate your time. By doing this, you physically see the labors of your work. You can look into the faces of those who you are helping, and see those people show gratitude and humility for your good deeds.
- Organizations where you can donate your time include homeless shelters, pet rescue centers, or nursing homes.
About This Article
This article was co-authored by Tasha Rube, LMSW. Tasha Rube is a Licensed Social Worker based in Kansas City, Kansas. Tasha is affiliated with the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. She received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Missouri in 2014. This article has been viewed 65,307 times.
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Updated: May 17, 2021