Tip of the Week: Spread Seven Smiles

PA160453_squareThis week’s tip: Give a random gift every day!

Yesterday was my 28th birthday. Birthdays are great, aren’t they? Leading up to my birthday this year, I started to anticipate the warm, happy feelings that my birthday tends to bring, and I got to wondering — why is that birthdays make us feel so good?

Is it the fact that we are a year older? Probably not. (Unless we’re under 21 — and then it’s still really exciting.)

Is it the fact that all of our acquaintances came out of the woodwork to wish us a happy birthday on Facebook? Alright, I’ll admit… that does make me feel kinda good.

Is it the fact that we receive lots of gifts? Ooh! Bingo! I like presents! 😉

In all seriousness, though — this is the perfect time of year for me to tell you from personal experience that receiving a gift can make you feel appreciated, grateful, and happy. But why do we only tend to give each other gifts on birthdays, anniversaries and special holidays? Why not spread appreciation, gratitude and happiness on a day when someone least expects it? 

While it’s true that receiving gifts makes us feel happy, research shows that giving gifts can make us even happier. So this week, I challenge you to give someone a random gift every day. It doesn’t have to cost money — it doesn’t even have to be big! Here are 10 ideas for random gifts that can brighten someone else’s day — and yours.

  1. A heartfelt hug. Hugs are free, and if you hold on long enough they’ll release the feel-good “hug hormone”, oxytocin!
  2. A happy text message. Whether it’s a message that says “Have a great day!” or “I’m grateful to have you in my life!” or even a random emoji, a thinking-of-you text is bound to spread a smile.
  3. A personal letter. If texting’s not your thing — go for the lost art of letter-writing! Sending personal snail mail is tangible evidence that you care.
  4. Freshly baked anything. Mmmmmmm. Enough said.
  5. Flowers. Buy a fancy bouquet or pick a simple wildflower — giving either one will be a beautiful way to share a little cheer.
  6. A donation. Being charitable is good for the universe… and it’ll make you feel good about yourself!
  7. A care package. When I was sick last autumn, my good friend Kai sent me a thoughtful care package, and opening it up felt like Christmas morning.
  8. A sincere compliment. Giving a compliment is incredibly easy on your part, but can totally make someone else’s day.
  9. A little encouragement. When other people express faith in us, it’s a lot easier to have faith in ourselves.
  10. Something special. If you know of something special that will make someone you love happy, don’t wait until their birthday to give it to them. When they ask you why you’re giving them a gift, you’ll get to say “so I could see you smile.”

So this week, I challenge you to pick one thing from this list every day, and spread seven smiles with me. The best part? One study showed that when one person behaves generously, it inspires others to follow suit — and researchers found that altruism can be spread by three degrees. So your seven contagious smiles can exponentially create 21 more… and the next thing you know… we’ll all be a little happier…


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