I often think about one of the splendid truths by Gretchen Rubin, author of the best selling The Happiness Project. Her truth is “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people is to be happy yourself.”

To that end, I am constantly thinking of ways to make others happy (not that I am unhappy or anything). I find great joy and happiness when others around me are happy and so I do a lot of small things to make sure that the people around me are appreciated, respected, have a laugh and can really enjoy life.

I recognize that not everyone has someone special in their life, but many of these things are actions you can take without having to be in a relationship.

Call up a friend that you haven’t talked to in a while

We all have those friends that we may have neglected or may not have talked to in a while. Pick up the phone and call them. Apologize for not having been in touch and try not to make promises that you will stay in touch, unless you really want to. Catch up on things and ask them how they are doing. Even better is to do a skype call as I am sure that you have friends that have moved to different places because of their lives and that is why you probably have not stayed in touch.

Help someone out

Where I am, there is a lot of snowfall and one of the things that every home owner has to do is to clear their driveway and sidewalk of snow. Since I am sandwiched between two houses, I try to clear the sidewalks that I share with the two houses beside me as best I can and I am often surprised to see that when more snow falls, the sidewalks shared by my two neighbours are often cleared for me. It’s a nice way of showing appreciation and respect for your neighbours.

Cook a nice meal

I think cooking is a skill that everyone should have. This really deserves another post, but I think cooking helps you eat healthier, saves you money, and can be a nice way of showing your appreciation for someone. There’s nothing like being asked what your favourite meal is and then having someone cook (and clean the dishes) so that you don’t have to do anything.

Do one thing for someone that they haven’t got around to doing

I was walking around saying goodbye to one of my coworkers who I also happen to be friends with. She was stuck doing a writing assignment that she wasn’t making a lot of progress in. I asked if I could help and a few hours later, I had done quite a bit of writing to help out. To me, it makes sense to have two people work for three hours each (or shorter) rather than have one person do work for six hours.

Purchase a gift

One of my close friends once told me that the best gifts are those that people really want, but cannot pull the trigger on purchasing themselves. Maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe they cannot justify having another item (such as a laptop or smartphone) when they already have one. Whatever the reason, they just do not buy it for themselves.

Find someone close to you and keep track of what is on their wish list. Maybe it’s a book that they want. Or it’s a spa experience that they cannot splurge on. Or a meal at that fancy restaurant with month long reservations. Get it for them.

Do a chore that your partner dislikes doing

Does your partner hate cleaning the bathrooms? Not like doing the dishes? Or the laundry? Without telling them in advance, do that hated chore for them. And then wait until the person realizes what you have done.

Take care of the kids all day

Sometimes, you need a break from your kid / kids. On a weekend day, take your kids out and let your partner have a day to themselves without worrying about kids.

Buy coffee for a stranger at the coffee shop

Pay for your coffee with a $20 bill. Tell the cashier that you will pay for the person behind the person behind you (that is, two people behind you) and tell them to give them all the remaining change. Stand back and watch as the person realizes what has happened and delight in their surprised smile.

Give a stranger your transit ticket

Once, I was at the subway and heard that the train was pulling in. Not wanting to wait for the next one, I rushed over to the ticket machine to validate my ticket. As I was validating my ticket, I noticed there was an already validated ticket on the machine. Someone had completed their ride and then left their ticket so that it can be used by someone else. I thought to myself that if I wasn’t in such a rush, I could have saved a ticket, but the other thought I had was how thoughtful some people are when most people would keep or throw their used ticket away.

Give a hug

Although I’ve never done it myself, I have seen lots of viral videos about free hug day or someone with a sign that says free hugs. I have not seen anyone receive a hug and not feel better. I feel better when I give or receive hugs so why not give a hug to the next friend you see. Or your partner. Or your Mom or Dad.

What’s a random act of kindness that you can do? What things do you do to make others around you happy?