It’s winter; daylight makes a stingy appearance; we’re cooped up inside; football season is (pretty much) over; no rooftop happy hours. And, to top it all off, it’s just darn cold (well, in most parts of the country. Don’t talk to us, SoCal).
We, as humans, are a little deprived in winter, are we not? Maybe it’s the lack of Vitamin D or the fact that we’re either trying to fight off a cold, or fight off an inevitably nasty one, but we are just downright bummed out. In other words, we need some brightening up.
But before you draw yourself a nice, hot bubble bath or go out to Starbucks for a Venti white mocha latte with extra whip cream, we’ll stop you right there; don’t. Have you thought about how brightening someone else’s day may, in turn, brighten yours?
Countless studies across the world have shown that we reap the benefits when we do something nice for someone else. Making someone else feel good releases positive Serotonin chemicals in the brain, rendering you feeling sunny. Whether it deepens your bond with the mailman because you helped him pick up a stack of mail he dropped, or nabs you a first date because you held the door open for a cute lady, doing something nice for someone else can only bring about good things.
We’re all for feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside, especially when we see the forecast for the next week is hovering around 30. Check out our list of some of the best ways to brighten someone’s day and try them out, well, today!
Chocolate, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, sugar…
Who doesn’t like cookies? And homemade ones at that?
Baking cookies can be fun for you (heck, you get to lick the bowl!) and a nice treat for someone else.
Here’s what you do:
Pick out your favorite cookie recipe, pick up any ingredients you don’t have in your pantry, turn on some music, and BAKE.
When the product is finished, wrap up a plate, and give them to whoever you think deserves a treat. It could be the mailman or your kid’s teacher. They’ll be able to taste the love and kindness with every bite. (Awwwww!)
Pay for the person behind you
Whether you frequent the Starbuck’s drive-thru, or McDonald’s, you’ll pretty much always have someone behind you. They’re always waiting impatiently as you try to dig out the last ten cents for your fries. It happens every time!
On your next Starbucks/McDonald’s/Sonic trip to the drive-thru, let the cashier know you’d like to pay for the person’s order behind you. Pro tip: Look back to make sure there’s actually someone behind you.
You may pick up someone’s daily coffee, or you may pick up five kids’ Happy Meals, but either way, you’re sure to surprise someone and brighten their day.
Fill the meter
You see them every time you walk down the street and think ‘Whew! Glad that’s not me!’: Some poor, unfortunate soul is getting a parking ticket because they failed to leave whatever they were doing to come refill the meter.
Maybe they were breaking up with their significant other and couldn’t find an appropriate intermission.
Maybe they were inside taking care of their sick grandmother and refilling the meter was the last thing on their mind.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to use the extra coins in your pocket to help save someone a ridiculous parking ticket? Yeah, it would!
Take out that jar of change, walk down the street, and see who you could spare a parking ticket with a side of eye roll and hassle. You angel, you.
Set a date
Remember that promise you made to so-and-so about fill in the blank way back when?
It’s winter now, remember? You made that promise eons ago.
Call up so-and-so and set a date to follow through on your promise. Or, if said promise requires no planning on their part, surprise them by coming through on your promise before they expected it.
When you set a date to do something, you are holding yourself accountable, and you know you won’t be able to avoid it when it comes up.
When you surprise someone by doing the unexpected, well, we call that brightening someone’s day.
Offer to drive
Sometimes it’s a Friday night and everyone wants to have a couple more drinks that render them useless behind the wheel. We’ve all been there.
Instead of having everyone dance around the DD issue, be the one to volunteer. Be Super Sober Man.
Okay, still not convinced it will brighten your friends’ day/night if you volunteer to be DD first? Other benefits of staying sober include: Saving money at the bar, saving yourself the embarrassment of what lowering your inhibitions through alcohol is notorious for, and saving unnecessary sugar and calories.
Still not convinced to be DD? Or maybe you’re not in target demographic for the whole ‘DD’ message? Okay, we got you covered. Just offer to drive someone somewhere. We’re sure it’ll be appreciated. Play their favorite tunes while you’re at it.
A bikini/swim trunks aren’t required for this one, folks.
See that car in the picture? You could say it needs a little attention.
Maybe you have a friend/boyfriend/sister/cousin/crazy aunt whose car resembles this one. Maybe it’s time that changed.
Take the keys (if you can get away with it) and make a trip down to the car wash. Scrub that baby down. Throw away the wrappers in the backseat. Dust off the dashboard.
Everyone feels like a rockstar when they’re driving a clean car. If you clean someone’s car for them, you make them feel like a rockstar, therefore, you brighten their day. Vroom!
Give a compliment (and mean it)
It’s easy to blurt out a compliment to someone; ‘Nice shirt!’ ‘Cool nail polish!’ ‘I like your pants!’
But what about really noticing something that someone spent time on?
That lady who swipes your groceries? It might have taken her an hour to make her hair look so perfect this morning. Let her know that her hair looks great.
Tell that barista who always gets your coffee order exactly right, and gives it to you with a smile, that you appreciate their service.
If you’re uncomfortable giving genuine compliments to perfect strangers, tell your best friend one thing about her you really appreciate that she wouldn’t expect to hear.
Isn’t it great when someone else recognizes our efforts genuinely? That’s what you should do to brighten someone’s day.
Write a letter
Whatever happened to a good, ol’ fashioned hand written letters?
Do kids even know what a pencil is these days? No, we’re serious. Ask the neighbor kid if he knows how to use an eraser.
Hand written letters used to be an art form. Not only was the stationary something special, but the time and effort it took for someone to write out their thoughts and well wishes was something that held meaning.
Think of someone who could use a hand written letter. Have fun with it! Tell a joke, tell a story, or tell them what you are grateful for in them.
Face it: Wouldn’t you rather see a hand written letter in your mail box that you could hold on to and put on your fridge rather than one on your computer screen? Thought so.
Cook a meal
Sometimes life gets busy. And when life gets busy, people avoid making dinner. And when people avoid making dinner, they call for delivery. And when they call delivery, they feel like a failure for not producing a meal for themselves.
If you know someone like this, help a brother out! Cook said busy person dinner and help them avoid the horrible failure feeling.
You don’t have to be the best chef in the world. Heck, if you’re deathly afraid of using a whisk, pickup something you can pop in the oven, and transfer it to a serving dish and bring it to them. We won’t tell your dirty little secret, and they won’t feel like a failure. It’s a win-win. Maybe they’ll even share it with you. Win-win-win.
Who haven’t you talked to in a while? Grandma? Your best friend who lives across the country? College roommate?
Pick up the phone and give them a call.
You don’t have to talk for hours; even a short catch-up is bound to bring some happiness to the both of you.
Taking the time to sit down and call someone shows them you truly care, and what is more day-brightening than that?