“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito.” ~African Proverb
I have a love-hate relationship with airports.
On the one hand, it’s the perfect place to people-watch. I mean, how can you not tear up when you see a kid running to give a returning parent a giant hug? Or two lovers reuniting and smiling from ear to ear when they lay eyes on each other? You are witness to perfect snippets of pure, genuine emotional connection.
On the other hand, airports can be a drag. Long line-ups, having to chug my water bottle because I usually forget to empty it beforehand, taking my shoes off and stepping on my tiptoes to avoid my bare feet touching the cold airport floor.
But on my latest visit to the airport, my negative attitude vanished all because of one airport security employee.
As I was standing in line doing a mental inventory of all the liquids I would need to empty out of my purse, she was directing people through the line up in the best possible way. She was yelling positive messages like, “Life is good!” and “It’s a great day!”
What a rare and beautiful thing to do.
It put a smile on my face and truly impacted my flight and rest of the day. Her joie de vivre was contagious.
I never would have expected this from an airport security employee.
Which got me thinking, how can I brighten someone’s day within my normal realm of work?
Here are eight ideas I’ve come up with. I’d love to know your ideas in the comments.
1. Leave inspirational notes in random places.
Books in the library, on people’s car window, under your lover’s pillow, wherever.
How awesome would it walk into a public restroom and find a sticky-note on the mirror that says something like, “Make it a great day”? I predict it will also be just as awesome and exhilarating to be the one to leave the note.
2. Thank someone.
Who in your life has positively impacted you? A teacher, your mom, your brother, an old neighbor, a coach? Send them an email and share a memory and your gratitude for the positive influence they’ve had in your life.
3. Be curious about someone.
Make eye contact and smile. Acknowledge their existence, and engage them in conversation. Learn something about them. A two-minute conversation can brighten the day for both of you.
4. Send a handwritten note.
Who doesn’t love getting mail? There’s a total thrill in seeing an envelope with your name on it. Surprise someone with a handwritten note just because. I can almost guarantee they will smile ear-to-ear when they receive it.
5. Do something for yourself.
Now this may seem a bit backward. How does doing something for yourself impact someone else?
Well, when you take care of your own needs, and give yourself some much-needed self-love, you fill up your own cup. And when your own cup is overflowing, that overflow is the love that flows to others. It’s a beautiful thing.
So take that bath, go to that dance class, go for a walk, and feel the goodness.
6. Make a playlist for someone.
Back in the day, I used to love making mix-tapes. I’d wait by my ghetto blaster, blank tape in the tape deck, and be on high alert to press the record button when my favorite songs came on.
These days, making music mixes are way less labor-intensive! You can make a playlist on YouTube in minutes. Make a specific playlist for someone in your life and send it to them. What an awesome surprise to both give and receive!
7. Take it to social media.
Instead of spending time lurking on Facebook and Twitter, choose three people to give a shout-out to! The guy you used to sit next to in science class, your cousin you haven’t seen in three years, the random person you connected with when you were traveling—post on their wall (or send a private message). Let them know you’re thinking of them.
8. Surprise with a gift.
Whether you send flowers to one of your friends at her workplace or buy a coffee for the person behind you in line, splurging and surprising someone else is a lot of fun.
Do you go to a coffee shop with a loyalty card? I collect all my stamps, and then once I accumulate my free coffee, I ask the barista to give it to the next person in line. It’s a thrill for me, the barista, and the person behind me who doesn’t suspect a thing!
When you brighten someone’s day, you are simultaneously stirring up positive energy within yourself. And you’ll carry this energy with you throughout your day. It’s a great feeling.
So I challenge you to ask yourself, how can something I do today surprise and delight another individual? Let me know in the comments.
Be creative, use your gut, do what feels good.
Sunshine image via Shutterstock