We look for happiness everywhere. Inside and outside. Mostly we look for it outside. Sometimes we look for it inside ourselves as well. One of the simplest ways to experience peace and happiness it to give these to others in a selfless manner. If we make someone happy as a customer, we feel the satisfaction but when we make someone happy for free, albeit for a brief while, we feel happiness multiplied.
Having reached this conclusion early in life, I look for small ways to make some unknown people happy. And in a selfless manner. Actually, if you examine it closely, there is an ulterior motive involved here, as you are doing something to achieve peace and happiness yourself in return of your good deeds. Don’t worry. We can live with this little selfishness as long as it benefits everyone. As someone said, the most selfless Yogi is the most selfish person on earth as he or she is solely focused on his or her own liberation. It is the biggest irony of life that the path to complete selflessness goes through the door of ultimate selfishness.
Here, I share ten simple ways in which you can make strangers happy:
- Participate in welfare programs. Most of us want to do something big to help people. But the way to do it is to start small. Join hands with someone who is already doing it. Contribute financially and with labor. Helping someone in need with your own hands is so much better than just contributing money. However, do what you can and choose what suits you. We have the famous Tata Memorial cancer hospital close to our home. I always wanted to do something for the relatives of the poor patients. These people live in makeshift tents on sidewalk. Numerous thoughts crossed my mind but I didn’t know where to start. Then, I saw some people distributing food among these guys. I joined hands with them and started volunteering in food distribution service as well as helping them financially.
- Make someone else’s festival special. Recently some friends shared on a group that they carry chocolates and other goodies in their car during the festival season. They distribute these to homeless and poor people who can be found in plenty. I am against giving money to beggars at the traffic signal as it promotes human trafficking and such begging is forced on abducted people. But distributing a bit of food and drinks to needy cannot do much harm.
- Say THANKS to all helping staff. Being polite and thankful to all the helping staff like the watchmen, lift attendants, janitors etc. makes them really happy and keeps them motivated to do their job. Recently, I have been seeing videos of President Obama shaking hands with the janitors in white house as well as at the NASA office. Follow his example.
- Give out stuff to traffic police. One friend does this regularly and gives out biscuit packets and juice to the traffic cops. They work in grueling heat and rains under inhumane conditions.
- Offer lift to people. Of course, safety is everybody’s concern. But wherever you see someone in dire need for a lift, offer as a routine. This must be done for old people, people walking on crutches or someone who has lost the way. Leave it to your judgment how you balance the safety aspect.
- Give way to pedestrians. This may be normal in western countries and may be enforced by law. But here in India, it is a nightmare to walk on and cross the roads. If you see some people trying to cross the road and you are in a position to stop, please do.
- Don’t drive fast over puddles. Again, specially on roads riddled with pot-holes, please slow down and try not to splash mud on the pedestrians. In Mumbai, where it rains non-stop for four months and roads get hidden in an array of potholes, do drive slowly where people are walking on the side. Many educated, high class people sit in the rear seat with their heads buried in the newspaper or the phone. If you are one of them, do instruct your driver to follow this.
- Dispose off stuff responsibly. If you are changing curtains or furniture, and they are still good enough for use, please let a charity organization collect it from you. Just throwing away stuff in garbage may be wasting some useful resources. Give away books, clothes, shoes and electronics similarly. In my parents generation, they used to use any item till it was completely worn out or fully dead. But now, we change stuff for the sake of changing, for fashion and for newer versions. So lots of old things are still in good condition and usable.
- Offer advice and mentoring to someone in need. If you see a young person who can benefit with a bit of guidance from you, please offer it without hesitation. There are students who want to pursue engineering but no one in their family has studied the same. Similarly, there are first time MBA, Medical and Legal aspirants from under-privileged sections of society. Let them know that you can help.
- Be nice to senior citizens. Senior citizens or old people (though politically incorrect) are going through a very lonely phase of life. This is true more and more in countries like India as well, since we are moving to nuclear concept of family. When you see them, do offer greetings, talk a bit and offer to help if they need some. I am learning this from my wife. She always stops to greet the senior citizens and they love it.
When you do these activities, you also passively train your children to do the same. And the good qualities pass over to the next generation. We have been brought up in a society riddled with class and caste differences. These small gestures may go a long way in eradicating the fundamental evils of our society.
You can now pre-order my book – Happiness is All We Want!
Do write to me to share any more such examples at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here.
A seeker and explorer in the quest for lasting happiness, health and well-being. An MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi. Has been a senior banker with large global banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank. Working in these demanding global institutions with a gruelling schedule and plenty of business travel. Was fortunate to realise the importance of health and wellbeing early on. Learnt and practiced many wellbeing tools and techniques to focus on his own well-being while balancing the demands of a high-profile career and a lovely family.