Supporting each other is a really good way to help us all get along. One key to our own happiness is to contribute to the happiness of others. Remember how it felt the last time you did or said something another person really appreciated? We feel a kind of glow.
First, let’s explore supporting those we know. We can readily see the needs of our friends, family, and coworkers. But we need to be careful to act in ways they would find helpful, rather than what we’d like done for us. We don’t want to make life worse for others in our hastily chosen attempts to “help” them. For example, it may do more harm than good if we swoop in and weed a friend’s garden, if that’s one task they find rejuvenating. So, take a few moments and think about what they’ve complained most about doing – do they dread grocery shopping? Taking out the garbage? Cleaning the car? Just doing one of those things, out of the blue, can make everyone’s day.
To make sure our efforts will actually be supportive, just ask. A wonderful question to hear is: “How can I best support you right now?”. If they aren’t sure, it’s good to have a few suggestions of things we’d be willing to do. Making them a special meal, taking them out to dinner, or getting them tickets to a local theater production might bring them a touch of joy. The offers don’t have to cost anything, either. Time is a great gift – taking a walk and focusing on listening to them can be just the thing. If a coworker is going through a tough time, maybe volunteering to take over organizing a meeting would lower their stress a bit. And what parent wouldn’t appreciate the offer from a friend to give them a break and take the kids to the park for a few hours?
We can also be supportive with our words. Expressing appreciation for who they are and what they’ve done is always a good bet. Maybe we can cheer on our friend who is nervous about going for that promotion at work. Or the best assistance may be to remind a family member to take a break from the stress of caring for an elderly parent.
It may seem backwards, but one way of supporting others is to let others help us. Remember that warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we help others? By accepting help from others, we allow them to feel good.
It’s important to only give what we can. We need to honor our own boundaries, even as we reach out to others. If we try to give too much, or the wrong things, we risk feeling resentment, which supports no one.
It’s also good to support those we don’t even know. We can make a big difference in the lives of people we may never meet by donating our time and/or money to assist local non-profits. We can donate our time as volunteers to help out with the work of these groups or with their fundraisers. Besides experiencing that inner glow from being of service, we model for our kids and grandkids the importance of pitching in. There are also plenty of opportunities nationally and internationally to support others.
Life can get crazy. No one should have to feel that they’re going through it by themselves.