A friend recently used the old line that “you can’t make others happy unless you’re happy yourself.” I disagree, and I told my friend so. As I recall, my exact words were “That’s ridiculous. I have a Ph.D. in making other people happy.”
I don’t really have a Ph.D. at all, in making people happy or any other subject, but I do like to make the people around me happy, and here are three techniques I sometimes use:
- Listen: People like being listened to. I like being listened to, and my dad does, and my friends do, and I think pretty much everyone does. Listening validates people and indicates that you actually care what they have to say. Also, listening gives you good information on which to act.
- Act: When you learn of an action that could make someone happy, do it. You might learn of this action from listening, or from reading (not their diary…that will NOT make them happy) or from simply watching. Or you could deduce it, eg. “women like flowers, Catherine is a woman, ergo….” It doesn’t matter how you get there; what matters is doing something nice for someone.
- Compromise: Give in sometimes. You don’t always have to get your way. Like the time I wanted to go see Transformers 2 (because I think Megan Fox is a great actress) and my sister wanted to see Lorna’s Silence and (despite being really worried about what might happen to Optimus Prime) I gave in because it made my sister happy. And, it turns out, learning about Lorna and her Belgian snack shop wasn’t really that bad.
There you have it. A graduate degree in making people happy, in three easy steps.