It is an unfortunate truth that as members of the animal kingdom, we are naturally inclined to think of ourselves before anyone else. We can’t help the fact – it’s ingrained into our brains like last week’s lottery jackpot you were one number off winning. However, being programmed with a certain amount of empathy (most of us anyway) we understand there are certain occasions that call for us to put others first – rare occasions in which your fellow human simply cannot continue without the help and support of a friend.
Yes, it is admirable when you take time out of your busy schedule to rescue the odd duffer who has decided to take a dip in the canal without first learning how to swim – without you their proximity to the centre of the Earth would be six feet closer – but the opportunity for true care and attention presents itself when there is nothing at stake, and you simply want to make someone smile for the innate pleasure of their happiness.
If that is how you feel, perhaps these tips will help you out …
5. Make them a heartfelt meal
We all love food. Aside from providing us with the important ingredients required to continue living, it is a fantastic tool for giving easy satisfaction (grilled cheese never fails to put a smile on my usually-miserable face). Nowadays we do live in a world where fast food seems to be the order of the morning, noon and night, and if your current mealtimes are overshadowed with bland predictability, this could be the perfect tip for you.
Picture the scene, your children/parents/partner has just come home from school/work/spending all your money on a shopping spree, and a busy day of learning/filing reports/spending all your money on a shopping spree has left them hungry for a hearty meal/ hearty meal/more money to go spending on a shopping spree. Instead of the run-of-the-mill ready-meal you usually present to them on a Tuesday evening, you offer up a beautifully cooked dish they’ve never had before. Suddenly your typically boring dinner has turned into an exciting array of flavours and combinations of taste that say nothing if not, ‘I love you enough to exert myself for this one meal, and it is to be implied but never verbalised that you will do the dishes tonight’.
4. Buy them a small gift
We are all materialistic to an extent. If you were to check the happiness levels of someone with a Porsche and someone without a Porsche (which is of course, completely impossible) the person with a Porsche would probably come out on top, and despite us telling ourselves that person who has it all is most likely dead inside, he/she is very much alive and kicking.
Being given a gift is glee-inducing for two reasons; you know that someone cares enough about you to pick out a tailored present and spend money on it, and you now have a new toy/gismo/artefact that you can spend endless hours enjoying. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but not cheap enough to go ignored after a couple of hours. A small charm for their bracelet, a box of chocolates, maybe a shirt or other item of clothing – the rarity of such a gesture makes it wonderfully gratifying.
3. Compliment them on a personal trait/characteristic
I’m not talking throwaway comments we make without thinking on a day-to-day basis – the whole, ‘I like your hair’ thing is fine for off-the-cuff flattery, but to really warm the deepest corners of their heart you must make it encompassing and meaningful. Pick out something you have long admired about that person but never actually vocalised to them – either through lack of chance or purely because like me, you prefer to keep everyone at your own, low level of being. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, let them know what it is you like so much – be it the way they laugh or that they’re a great listener or how funny they are.
The randomness of the compliment will prove that you have no motive for saying it, and allow them to believe your sincerity. You might even get a compliment back, although that’s not the point – to see their face light up is why we’re here, remember?
2. Write them a long text that basically asks how they’ve been doing lately
Texting is largely for convenience these days – if you have a short, sharp statement or question that requires a short, sharp reply, you send a quick text. No grammar, probably a few spelling mistakes, and the automatic ‘x’ or two at the end as the laziest possible representations of kisses in history (because we always kiss each other at the end of each sentence in real life). Every now and then though, you’ll get that long text – an essay-like prose that delves a little deeper and asks more profound questions than usual.
This uncommon phenomenon normally occurs when there is a particularly interesting situation afoot, and people want to know the facts and your opinion on them, but like everything else on our list, it can be manipulated to display fondness when executed at a random interval. So next time the person you wish to make feel special is at work or a boring-as-hell family event, write them a long, thoughtful text about how you hope they’re happy and that you’re thinking of them – the key is to focus all words on them, because we find nothing more interesting then reading about ourselves.
1. Ask if there is anything you can do for them
A favour, a selfless favour that eliminates all doubt over your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for the person in question. Usually, favours are asked for by whoever requires them because they are acts of kindness that go officially unrewarded, and most of us aren’t in the business of giving out good turns for free. That is why they are so perfect for this list.
Small things added up are what rule our lives – nipping to the shop, doing the housework, putting gas in the car – and having one or two of those taken off our crowded to-do list is a small but welcome relief. If a friend of yours is struggling with the ruthless errands of life, or even if they aren’t, ask if there is anything you can do to help – it’s a small amount of effort on your part that could really make their day. Make sure there is no pretext to this offer, the whole point is to assist their happiness, not put them in your debt.