Looking out, I sometimes wonder about the lives of the people that pass by. Are the happy? Where are they off to today?
Sometimes I notice myself thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the street. Like that person has cute shoes she must have a good job. Or he’s smiling, he must have a family to go home to. It’s funny the assumptions my brain wants to make about people that I don’t even know.
I know that deep down, we all want to be happy and to belong. To be part of something that is bigger than we are. Sometimes we try and find it by comparing what we have to “those people” that look happy. Maybe that car, boat, milkshake, sweater is just what I need. The whole world of advertising counts on us to pick up a magazine or watch an add that hooks us on the next thing that will make our lives better or happier.
I have a little news flash for us, whatever that add is selling is not going to make us happier. I know, discouraging right? Sometimes I really, honestly think that those shoes will fix the bad day I just had. Well it works for a minute…until I have to pay the bill for them.
At a conference last week, I heard a study that said people who give philanthropically are healthier and happier than people than those who don’t. I sat with that thought for awhile and landed on this little nugget. People that give, in whatever way, are happier. Not people that buy or compare or strive. It’s about the giving, in whatever way that is for you. It’s dinner for your family, a supportive phone call, a love poem to your sweetheart, supporting something you believe in. These are the things that bring us joy. And that’s because they come from the inside of us. A gift packaged in love.
So the next time I watch a passerby and wonder about their happiness, I think I will check in with mine. What am I doing with this great capacity to love that we are all born with? What gift can I bring to this moment? It might be a smile, or a call or a smoothie for my kids. Whatever it is, I bet it will make someone feel a little happier and me too. Giving is good for you, try it out.