We’re all running on empty from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a little left to give. Just as a car can keep going when it hits E (for empty), so can you.
The challenge lies in what we believe we can provide and of course what we “assume” others expect from us.
Often times we freeze at the thought of giving someone something because it’s attached to a dollar amount or price tag. Since we all have money hang-ups the size of Godzilla, it’s easy to see why we aren’t always quick to think of other solutions. Sometimes the answers aren’t as complex as we believe. Some don’t require a penny. In fact, a little insight matched with intent maybe all you need.
The insight is around the other person’s needs, while the intent is about you acting on it. It’s easy to have grand ideas – especially ones about giving to others but the follow-through can be muddied by one’s own personal interest and ego. Putting the other person’s needs at the forefront, especially when you feel you have nothing to give, is a sign of selflessness.
When you’re being selfless, you’re thinking of other people before yourself. If you give time, money, or things to other people without expecting something in return, that’s selfless.
For a bit of perspective on truly “running on empty” I recommend reading Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner’s Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America by Marshall Ulrich.
Here are seven ways you can brighten someone’s day without spending a dime.
Give Appreciation. Expressing gratitude to someone for the things that they do for you can make them feel appreciated. This single act can restore someone’s belief system that they are welcomed and needed. It can also potentially building strong relationships and a greater sense of trust.
Give A Smile.
A genuine smile has a sincere way of both conveying and promoting kindness, happiness, and trustworthiness. These qualities may be what the other person needs in order to open up to you. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress.
Making someone laugh causes people to disarm their emotions and relax. Laughing instantly reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. Meanwhile, it increases the production of serotonin and endorphins which reduce the effects of stress.
Give Your Presence.
Most people listen to reply instead of understanding leaving a chasm of confusion and mistrust. Being fully present with another person is invaluable. It provides something money could never buy…respect. When people feel respected, they are more likely to be open and transparent.
When you provide support, confidence or hope – you may just be giving someone that little extra push they need to get by or accomplish some objective. Consider it’s a spark that can motivate someone to take just one small step which in return may be the biggest step of their life.
Give Your Time. Often times we need the help of others but are too afraid to ask for it. Resist watching someone struggle or wait to be asked. Simply offer up your time in service of someone else’s needs. They say time is money. Well if that’s true, giving someone yours would be worth its weight in gold.
Give Them Space.
Not passing judgment on another person is almost (if not) impossible simply due to how our brains are hardwired. Science aside, not vocalizing what could only be construed as an insult and instead opting for silence, sympathy or even empathy as an alternative. Watching someone struggle or in pain is never easy but often times it’s needed so the person can begin both the healing and learning process.
Final thoughts: Happiness begets happiness. Numerous studies have shown that people who are happier tend to be healthier, less stressed and more physical. It doesn’t take much to pay it forward. Making someone else happy simply boils down to authentically choosing to put someone else’s needs as a priority regardless of expecting anything in return or how you may look in the process.
The floor is yours: Have you ever given, without expecting anything in return – what happened?
Have an extra 2 minutes to discover more about yourself? Take the quiz to find out if you’re happy or comfortable.
Joshua Miller is a creative leader and impactful executive coach.
His career spans both the advertising world and the world of leadership. In advertising, he was the creative lead, responsible for the campaign strategy for Fortune 100 brands. Today, he is an innovator. He’s supporting the executive development and change management for many of the same companies.
Joshua studied at Syracuse University, NYU and Stanford. He combines that background with his deep knowledge of organizational behavior, performance and change management. He focuses on the analysis, design, development, delivery, and evaluation of scalable and global talent development solutions programs.
Joshua is a Master Certified Coach. He trained with the International Coaching Federation and CTI (The Coaches Training Institute).