I've heard the same question at the end of several of my talks on The Power of Positivity: How can I make other people happier?
You can't. But you absolutely can make yourself happier. A lot happier. "40 percent is that part of our happiness that it's in our power to change through how we act and how we think, that portion representing the potential for increased lasting happiness that resides in all of us," according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, in The How of Happiness.
And when you become happier, others around you become happier too. "Extraordinarily, recent research exploring the role of social networks in shaping human behavior has proven that much of our behavior is literally contagious; that our habits, attitudes, and actions spread through a complicated web of connections to infect those around us," says Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage. A few more powerful insights from Achor's book:
"Our attitudes and behaviors don't only infect the people we interact with directly--like our colleagues, friends, and families--but each individual's influence actually appears to extend to people within three degrees. So when you use these principles to make positive changes in your own life, you are unconsciously shaping the behavior of an incredible number of people."
"By trying to make ourselves happier and more successful, we actually have the ability to improve the lives of 1,000 people around us."
"Studies have shown that when three strangers meet in a room, the most emotionally expressive person transmits his or her mood to the others within just two minutes."
"Just one positive team member--one person using the Happiness Advantage--can affect both the individual attitudes and performance of those around him, as well as the dynamic and accomplishments of the group as a whole."
Want to make someone in your life happier? Make yourself happier instead. Then you both win.
And if you're not sure how to start, browse these posts:
Here's to a happier you!