3 Simple Ways to Bring Joy to the World
Smiling: The Simplest, Cheapest Way to Be Kind
It’s so simple, really. Smile. It’s something all of us can do. It doesn’t cost you anything, and a genuine smile at someone may warm their world a bit, something that person may desperately need in this COVID-plagued world with political and economic worries on top of the daily demands of living.
Popular wisdom, starting with Charles Darwin in the 1800s, believed that smiling made us feel happier. It was a theory called the facial feedback hypothesis suggesting that if we smile, we feel better. If we frown, we feel worse. While some scientists don’t buy into this theory, multiple others do.
Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist, notes that our moods improve because of what happens in our brain when we smile.
“A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. ..Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and aggression.”
So smiling is good for you, but it’s also GREAT for others. Your smile may be the only good thing someone else sees today. The kindness of a genuine grin may lift someone. It may help another person to smile back. You’ll feel better and every person you smile at may feel better too. What is there to lose?
Writing Letters: The Lost Art of Connecting With Others
When people are isolated and cut off from community, they are likely to be depressed. One of the kindest gestures you can make is to write them a letter or a note. Letters last a long, long time after an email has been incinerated in cyberspace, and they are meaningful because they took time, attention, and effort to send. Novelist Elizabeth Kostova said,
“It’s funny. In this era of email and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.”
They are a way to cement relationships and send tangible proof of your affection, easing loneliness and despair. Charlie Brown, once lamented,
“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters… I could be their leader.’
Think of one person that might need an emotional boost today, and write them a letter so that the millions of people who never get love letters will be reduced by one.
“Signing”: Kindness From a Distance
You don’t have to be close to others to spread a little kindness. No verbalizing is even needed to help celebrate World Kindness Day. You can do it with signs.
Place a sign in your apartment window that says, “Hi! I’m thinking of you.” Or do what this neighborhood did and create a place for signs that make people smile.
Write a message in marker on a piece of 8-l/2" x 11" computer paper and tape it inside one of your car’s back window. “You can do this.” “We’re with you.” “I care.” Who knows? Someone may get a hit of hope from it.
If you have access to a signboard, display a message of kindness or humor — because everyone needs to smile more often. One that made me laugh is, “I just realized that my trash goes out more than I do,” or “This sign is operating at 50% capacity.”
If you live in a neighborhood or city, consider chalk art, and put a message of kindness and hope on the sidewalk for others to see as they walk by.
Wear a button. My sister had a couple of hundred buttons saying, “Be Kind,” made. She distributed them to each member of our large extended family. You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me, “Oh, I LOVE your button! Thank you!” when they see it pinned to my coat collar. Such a simple thing for people to comment on, all because they see one person who wants to be kind.
If you need a boost or share my desire to be kind, you might appreciate these:
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