11 Ways to Make Someone Smile and Brighten Their Whole Day

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Has a stranger ever done something that made your whole day look brighter? Perhaps they opened the door at the bank for you or let you go ahead of them in the queue? Remember how good it made you feel?

Making someone smile and brightening their day is one of the most generous things you can do. It has a ripple effect that touches the whole community; if you are nice to someone it is likely they will be nice to someone as well. In this post I want to show you some simple ways to make someone smile today.

Why bother trying to make people smile?

As I said in the opening paragraph the act of making someone smile touches the entire community. Try to think back to when someone last did something that made you smile or brightened your day? Do you remember how it made you feel happy and less stressed? Do you remember how it allowed you to be more friendly with your workmates, friends and family? A simple smile or friendly gesture by that stranger had an effect on your whole world, even if only for a few hours. It rippled through the people in your life. Quite amazing when you think about it.

So we know that making someone smile can change the whole community. But what else can it do? Why else should we bother trying to make people smile? Well there are a lot of reasons actually.

Firstly, it makes you feel good about yourself. When you make someone happy you really feel like you have done something good. So making other people happy makes you happier. Secondly, it is healthy. If you smile at someone and make them smile you are actively causing chemicals to be released in to your body that battle stress and cause feelings of joy. This is good. Making other people smile benefits both yourself and others.

Why is it generous?

As I said before, making someone smile is one of the most generous things you can do. The reason for this is simple: when you smile at someone or brighten their day you give something of yourself. You are putting aside your own selfish needs and wants for a moment to make someone else feel good.

And this is extremely generous.

Think about a man opening the door for a lady. This practice is about manners and being a gentleman but it is also about generosity. You are doing something for someone because it helps them. It is a small act but it can change someone’s entire day. In fact, it might change someone’s entire perceptions! Imagine if the lady you opened the door for felt badly about men. She may have had a few bad experiences with men lately and decided that they were all jerks. But you just opened the door for her. Now her mind might shift. It might not shift entirely but it might open up a little bit to the possibility that maybe there are some good men out there.

Making someone else smile or brightening their day is all about putting them before you. When you engage in this type or practice (and it is a practice) you also develop positive qualities in your mind like patience and kindness. But the main quality that you will develop is generosity. If you go out everyday and try to make the people around you smile you will develop the inner qualities of a very generous person. This is one of the most respectable and admirable qualities a person can posses.

11 ways to make someone smile and brighten their whole day

Ways to Make Someone Smile
Creative Commons License photo credit: mactiste

Here are some simple and easy ways to make the people around you smile or brighten their day. They are small acts that have big effects.

1. Smile first
The easiest and possibly the most effective way to get someone to smile is to smile at them first. People don’t seem to do this anymore. I remember when I was a kid walking through the park with my family and everyone would smile at each other and say hello. Now people sort of just power walk through the park and avert their eyes when they get near you. Perhaps it is because we have so much more fear now. I don’t know. But what I do know is that if you smile at someone first they will almost always smile back and walk away feeling happier.

2. Be chivalrous
Chivalry is a term dating back to the medieval knights and their values of honor, courtesy and good manners. It is a very simple practice where you endeavor to behave in a kind and courteous way to the people around you and especially to members of the opposite sex. A typical example would be holding the door open for someone or standing up to greet someone when they meet you for lunch. Again, it is easy to do but makes people feel really good.

3. Be self deprecating
Self deprecation is one of the best ways to make friends and make people smile. People love it when someone makes self deprecating jokes because it makes them seem less arrogant and more approachable. The best comedians are those who use this style of self deprecation to interact with the audience.

But remember, this is supposed to make people smile, not make them feel sorry for you. Self deprecation is not about going into a bar and telling everyone how shit your life it. It is more about being able to make fun of yourself and take yourself a little less seriously. For example, if you slip over at a restaurant and make a big mess you might make a quick joke like “…it was like that when I got here…” instead of getting all angry and serious and trying to blame someone or something around you. People hate that.

4. Listen
When someone is talking to you listen to them. Don’t just sit there waiting for your turn to talk. Actually listen. This is one of the best ways to make people feel good about themselves.

The classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People talks about how important it is to be genuinely interested in people if you want them to like you. The reason this makes people like you is because it makes them feel good about themselves. The book talks about how people perceive someone as interesting if they sit there and listen to you talk. People don’t care if you arm wrestled Darth Vader on the top of the Egyptian Pyramids – they want you to listen to their stories.

Ways to Make Someone Smile

5. Surprise someone
Have you ever brought flowers home for your wife or girlfriend because it was a Wednesday? Not Valentine’s Day that fell on a Wednesday, just because it was Wednesday? Surprising someone for no particular reason other than to make the person smile is a fantastic way to brighten someone’s day.

6. Take on some work
Quite often the reason someone is angry is because of their work. It might be a deadline at the office or it might be the pile of dirty clothes in the laundry. And quite often you can reverse that person’s mood and make them smile by taking on some of their work.

If you have a few spare minutes at the office you might want to volunteer to run some errands for a person who is struggling. Or you might want to do the dishes even though it is not your turn. A little extra work can often really brighten someone’s day.

7. Be humble
I am always shocked at how much a truly humble person can improve my day. Their inner warmth seems to radiate outwards and makes you feel protected and comfortable. Humility is truly a great quality. Let me give you an example:

The other day I went to the shop to buy a coffee and the man serving me was extremely humble. He asked about my day, thanked me for my business and took my money with two hands. I was dressed up in my sharp “business man” clothes and was walking around feeling pretty good about myself. Then I met this humble man and was brought back down to Earth. He was quite old and had obviously had a hard day’s work. But he treated me with respect, as I imagine he does with all his valued customers.

The man’s humility really touched me and reminded me that sharp clothes and big business doesn’t mean anything if you don’t treat people with love and respect. When you are humble you are more likely to treat people well and this makes them smile.

8. Make eye contact
Looking people in the eyes is a good habit to develop. It shows trust and demonstrates that you are truly trying to engage the person. When you show someone that you are trustworthy you make them feel good. This is particularly true of business related meetings. People want to know that they are dealing with a trustworthy person and as such looking someone in the eyes will improve their day.

9. Offer a random compliment
This seems like a pretty obvious thing to do but it actually takes a lot more guts than people think. Compliments are a sure-fire way to make someone smile but quite often they are hard to deliver. It takes bravery.

For example, you might see a beautiful woman who looks sad and depressed. A simple, “your hair looks amazing” would go a long way but it is a pretty daunting thing to do. My advice is to just let it rip without thinking about it too much. If your intentions are to cheer her up then she will usually be receptive. If your intentions are to pick her up then she might not!

10. Ask people their name
My father taught me this trick for business relationships and it is also mentioned in the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. People love hearing their name. They love knowing that someone cares enough to remember it. And you can take this theory one step further by actually asking the person what their name is. It is a very powerful tool for cheering people up and making new friends.

Take a look at this video and how Barack Obama asks people their names. This is often a personality trait of a caring and friendly person.

11. Shake hands, hug or physically interact
The final thing I am going to offer is one of the most powerful. It is physical interaction. This is a truly wonderful way to cheer someone up and brighten their day.

Humans are sensual creatures. Their lives are dictated by smells, sights, tastes and sounds. But of all of these senses it seems that the most powerful way to interact with another human is by touch. A shake of the hand or a hug is a big thing because it forces both people to be open to anything. Right at that moment the person you are hugging could stab you in the back and your life would be over. Hugging and touching goes against a lot of our basic survival instincts and that is why, when it is done properly, it is so wonderful.

If you really want to make someone smile give them a hug when you say hello. If you don’t want to hug strangers (I don’t recommend hugging strangers by the way) then shake their hands when you meet them. One person who took this idea to the extreme was the “Free Hugs” guy who eventually was featured on Oprah. This video has had over 32 MILLION views by the way. People must like hugs! Check it out:


I want to say a big “thank you” to anyone who is out there in the world making people smile. It is a truly admirable thing to do. If anyone has any stories about how a simple gesture has made them smile then please leave a comment and let us know. I would love to hear it!

35 thoughts on “11 Ways to Make Someone Smile and Brighten Their Whole Day

  1. Thank you for writing this post I really enjoyed it. Actually, it made me smile!

    One story I have is when I was in a traffic jam and someone got out of their car and stopped other traffic to help get me free. Was so kind and so out of his way.

    Thanks again.


  2. Great post! I try so hard to make people smile. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think the best way is to just be yourself and try without trying if that makes sense. If you try too hard you might scare people.

  3. Hi Andrea.

    Thanks for the compliment.

    I think you are right about trying too hard. You don’t want to look desperate. Perhaps we need to find a balance between making an effort and trying too hard.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Why does it happen that when bad things are happening around us or with us we dont want to smile even if our loved ones are trying hard to make us smile. Its like i am angry, and i want to make it clear to my husband that i am upset and i dont want to smile…although it is me who is actually getting tensed and hurt and burning my blood and frowing my face….and not the one coz of whom i am upset….why do i not feel like smiling…as if small joy in life r gone

  5. i love to make the deprived people smile..i would give sweets to old ladies asking for alms…esp during festival days, instead of giving money. give fruits to kids trying to sell small nick nacks at traffic lights in india…will try to buy a cup of tea for needy old people during winters now and maybe give toffees to kids on christmas…their smile lightens the heart and i forget about the problems in my life

  6. Hi Shivani.

    When I am in India I try to give money where I can. It is hard as a westerner though because most of the time people try to rip me off!

    Do you have any tips for spotting people who are just trying to take advantage of you?

  7. Yes this is interesting Shivani. Sometimes I think we want to make others feel our pain so we bring them down with us. Perhaps if we made more of an effort to smile and make others happy we ourselves would feel better?


  8. great post mate.
    i really liked “listen”. not just waiting for the noise to stop, so you can start.
    and the obama vid, i love that guy.
    i also like.. mindfulness. i think if we are present when we are with people, that on its own adds a lot of warmth.
    thanks man. keep up the great writing.

  9. I love this post. I always try a least once a day, to make someone smile, it does makes me feel very good. I remember being at the supermarket on a particular day. I saw an eledery lady she was very old. To me she looked beautiful, I went over to her and told her how beautiful I thought she was and that I hoped when I got older I would look as beautiful as she did. Her whole face lit up I will never forget that. She said “oh my darling you just made my day” What a feeling that was for me.


  10. Great post TDM! The hugs video, I’m a little embarrassed to say, made me cry. I’ve been an emotional wreck this past week with marital troubles at home. I think my soul mate and I are working through it and will come out on the other side in tact, but I really, really screwed up. Counseling on Monday, hopefully it’ll help us sort some feelings out, but we’re doing a really great job on our own this past few nights. We’re on day 4, and its getting easier and easier. You know what helped the most so far? Being present. I went and listened to a zen Buddhist visiting teacher last night, and his message struck deep in me. I shared the message with my wife last night, while we were sitting in a parking lot, “talking” again. Putting the world in perspective, fully realizing that not 5 feet away someone else was living a completely different story, brought us both up out of the depression. We then decided to go to a friend’s Halloween party, and we laughed and smiled at our ridiculous friends 🙂 It was a balm to the soul, and those friends have no idea what they did for us. We’ll tell them soon. They should know what their happiness and mirth did to those around them.

    Your post was another dose of medicine. My wife still thinks this meditation thing is a bit “hokey” but she’s definitely benefiting from the lessons of being present. Thank you for thinking of us, and sharing your experiences. Hearing of someone else’s thoughts and perspective is another way to put one’s one life into perspective. In my world, I’m usually the guy to help others to smile, I’m that “irritatingly chipper” guy that people work with. That term is always offered with a smile though 🙂 A lot of it is just random acts of compliment, and taking the time to be aware. Noticing that someone changed their hair cut, or did their nails, has an amazing effect on people. Often their own spouses don’t realize the difference, but when someone that’s just an acquaintance notices, it brightens their whole situation. I’ve seen it dawn across their face. Now, in my time of need, those people, who I never mentioned my life situation too, its quite personal, so I’ll share it on the internet instead, 😛 have come together to pull me up. They don’t even realize it, yet there they are “returning the favor”. I don’t really understand “karma” but even if there is no mystical force going through the world, “what goes around, comes around” is just a scientific fact. It just makes sense. Sorry to ramble on. Thank you for doing what you do.


    ps. If you ever want for a post topic, I’d love a discussion of karma and dharma. I’ve heard them spoken almost like opposites of a coin, and I’ve read a bit about it, but I don’t really “get” it all yet. Thanks!

  11. Hey Mickey.

    Thanks for writing another fantastic comment!

    I am sorry to hear you and your wife are having troubles. My partner and I also had some troubles about a year ago and I know how hard it can be.

    If I can offer some advice: be yourself. It is important that a marriage is the coming together of two individuals and not a merging of two individuals so that both people lose their own identity. This was a big thing for me to learn but it has done us wonders.

    I am glad you got to meet a bit of Zen Buddhism. How did you feel about it I wonder?

    Good luck with everything and as always we can chat if you need to.


  12. Smiling first works wonders. I did this the other day while riding my bike in the park. Folks who routinely walk there and never smile or speak when I ride by did so when I greeted them with a smile. It warmed my heart!

  13. I enjoyed your post. It reminded me of the random acts of kindness. Keep up the good thoughts. An attitude of gratitude is important and especially now at Thanksgiving time. Thanks

  14. almost everone is a fake, begging is business for them…i just give to very elderly people, with frail bodies…or lil kids(no money to kids only food sometimes)…u must be aware that they operate under a leader, a racket…it is illegal to give alms to them…basically to discourage them.there have been uncountabel incedents where kids, even elderly have been either left on road or kidnapped, handicapped deliberately so they can beg on streets..cruel is an understatement…
    so my policy…frail elderly people(who knows under what circumstances they r here)and toddlers…no pregnant women, women carrying sick kids..they r all fake..dont buy baloons, books etc from them…i plead all those who will read this…by giving alms to these people, you only encourage them to not work and beg.

  15. It is very sad.

    In Dharamsala in Himachal there are lots of ladies who have babies just so they can beg for expensive milk. Then when you buy them the milk they sell it back to the shop owner and make a big profit.

    What to do…? Very sad.

  16. i love you dear you are doing virtuous work by highlighting the importance of smile and spreading smile irrespective of culture . this is true human act.

  17. Another way to brighten someone’s day is to be considerate. If I see a stray animal on the street, I help it if it will come to me. I once crossed paths with a dog that had ID on his collar. The phone number had been disconnected but so I called the veterinarian office listed on the rabies tag. I finally got in touch with the owners. They had to leave town unexpectedly and while they were gone, the dog got out. They were still out of town and were completely freaked out that they could not get to the dog and I could not keep him at my apartment. I assured them that I had their dog and that he would be taken care of some how some way. We decided that I would take him to a vet that also boarded dogs. They called the vet and gave their credit card information to pay for the stay. They were so thankful that they wanted to give me money for what I had done. I absolutely refused and told them that I could only hope that someone would help my dog if the same thing happened to me. I can guarantee that helping this animal gave these people new faith in humanity. I don’t mean to sound like I did this great thing. I mean to say that I am a responsible human being and it is refreshing to see people taking care of each other.

  18. Lol.. My bf haz been a lil off the egde lately snd i tried evrrythinggg but nothing wrrkz. Soo i wil see if thos wurxx. Thanxxx(:

  19. Send a letter in the mail with a card that says “Smile. :)” and that’s all. It’s short and sweet, but people will admire the fact that you mailed a whole letter just telling them to smile!

  20. One day my mom and I drove by the library and she had me get out and run the books to the return. It wasn’t that I was extremely upset, but I just wasn’t smiling or having a good time.

    This older gentleman stepped out in my way and i stopped and he looked at me and just said,
    “Smile it can’t be that bad.”
    And it was so true. Half the time we’re just running through the motions. We need to live life, and i need to be reminded of that regularly.

  21. very nice. but u know what, I feel a bit like a jerk, I always try my best to be this cool guy that is hard to impress or make him smile. but I will surelly approciate someone who wants me to smile from now over and ofcourse I will smile and make people smile.

  22. i’ll take ur advice and makle my girl come out of her stress… she is really upset… thanx 4 ur advice i loved it… 🙂 hav a great day.. 🙂

  23. Smiling for me is not easy. I would like to be more at ease with my smiles. I know if I can easily give others a nice genuine smile, I can impact my community in the subtle small way that will turn out for the better. Here’s to practicing my smile every day!

  24. Let’s make our communities a better place, one smile a day at a time. I for sure will be practicing my smile every day. I know it’s a bit of a stretch to say that smiling will improve the economy and make everyone happy.. but I am willing to bet that these small subtle actions build up and lead to more positive actions by others.

  25. I remember a few months ago, I was running late for school, and so as soon as I got out of the car, I started running. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to close my backpack, and everything inside fell on the ground. This girl named Rachel instantly ran up to me and started helping me pick everything up from my bag. It really made my day. 🙂

  26. So I was playing a french gnome prostitute in World of Warcraft and no one wanted to buy my body. But suddenly a female draenei came to me and gave me 10 golds for a strip tease. This really made my day. 🙂

  27. I love this article – I love making people smile and sometimes I don’t even know I’ve done it … which is a bonus : )

  28. I make it my daily ritual to smile at everyone and it works most of time and thats when it makes me very happy. Sometimes it doesn’t work and thats okay. Thank you for the post. A very nice video too.

  29. Hello everyone, I am working with the most challenging period of my lifestyle. I have gotten my divorce proceeding started. I sat down with my spouse to talk about your children and finalizing divorce and he mentioned that he didn’t want factors to end. I have been with my spouse for 11 many we have 2 children ( 8 & Greater education old). I am only 28 so he’s basically all I know. We have had many excitement, but the bad seems to outweigh the excellent. I suffered several decades of spoken misuse and a lack of assistance. Things got real physical once and I finished up going into a domestic violence shelter with your children for 17 a few several weeks. I stored my cash, shifted out of the shelter and took my spouse returning. We started assistance and factors were still really bad. I advised my spouse that Needed him to help me economically because I was shifting into a new apartment. He experienced assaulted and shifted returning to his mother’s home. Three a few several weeks after he shifted out he advised me that he had unfaithfulness and a four 30 days old son with the other lady. I was troubled. It divided my center. This is our 3rd separation and I am exhausted. We have been divided for annually now and I’ve known about the unfaithfulness and kid for 9 a few several weeks. He says that he likes me and he realizes the harm that he has triggered me. He says that he wants his family associates returning and that we can be even stronger now…that God is testing us. I on the other side believe that God allowed it so that I could lastly proceed with my lifestyle. We have both said and done products that were incorrect, but this scenario is the most severe one yet. I just think that I don’t have any more time battle in me and I am questioning whether or not he’s even value the battle any more time. I regarded that my go was composed and now I have questions. I don’t know what to do. I am so exhausted of weeping. I’ve interceded about factors so many periods. I’ve spoken to my pastor…he’s just hoping for God’s will to be done in the scenario. Can anyone provide me any advice? I’m really stuck and puzzled. I know that God would want your children and I to be very grateful.

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