Quiz: Do You Make Other People Happy?

Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin on creating your own personal happiness

As put forth in my Second Splendid Truth:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people is to be happy yourself.

Everyone accepts the Second Splendid Truth, Part A; the Second Splendid Truth, Part B often isn’t as clear to people. But to focus on Part A here – how do you know if you’re making other people happy? What are some signs?

Are the following statements true for you:

  • Do people seem to feel comfortable confiding in you?
  • Do people follow your recommendations?
  • Are you a source of material comfort or security for someone else?
  • Do people whom you’ve introduced often go on to have a continuing relationship?
  • Do people seem to drift toward you? Join a conversation that you’re having, sit down next to you at a meeting?
  • Have you recently been involved in the improvement or growth of an organization, group, or process that involves many other people?
  • Are you providing opportunities for other people – job leads, blind dates, contacts in a new city?
  • Do people whom you hardly remember go out of their way to greet you warmly? Say, the friend of your old roommate, or a former co-worker?
  • Do people seem to want to connect with you — by making plans or by emailing, calling, or texting?
  • Do people seem energized by you? Do they smile and laugh in your presence?

Notice some items that are not on the list:

  • Do people remember your birthday?
  • Do people give you presents (say, for Mothers’ Day, or in recognition of an important milestone)?
  • Do people express appreciation and gratitude for your efforts?

Even if you’re making people happy, they don’t always respond by making these gestures. (Which can be quite annoying.)

A while back, I posted a quiz, Are you the person whom everyone else finds difficult? It was a lot easier to think of signs that you make people unhappy than you make people happy – perhaps because of the negativity bias.

What am I missing? I feel like I’ve overlooked some obvious indicators. What are some other good signs that you make people happy?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project. Each Wednesday is tip day on her blog.

3 comments so far.

  1. avatar Linda Myers says:

    Thank you Gretchen.

  2. avatar O E says:

    There are degrees, or levels to the truth of this issue.  For instance, in an effort to make other people happy, am I overextending my own convictions, lying, overwhelming them with kindness to the point of seeming cloying? Or am I trying to be so much in control of things that I loose control of my time and mess everything up?

    I know someone like that. 

    On one day she picked up two riders (late), so all three arrived at a morning meeting late. She followed with a lunch to which she arrived last and was the last to leave because she was chewing the fat with someone.  Her car (with her two riders) run out of gas because she had no time to stop at the gas station earlier.  At the same time she was asking how to make a pie;
    she had house guests arriving that afternoon and hadn’t planned the  evening meal she’d insisted on cooking for them.  All this while coasting down from a mountain top to reach a gas station at which she only added enough gas to the car to get her home because she had forgotten the credit card.  This person is habitually late, arrives out of breath, with a story about an inoportune phone call just as she was leaving the house, or not finding an ironed blouse to wear.  In spite of all this, she volunteers for everything that comes along, joins every group she hears about and makes everyone in the group an instant best friend because she praises them individually to extreme, even if she later critiques behind their backs.  But she’s loved.  She makes them all happy.  And along the way she overreaches her capabilitites and runs out of breath while listing to any who listen the extent of her good deeds.

    To me, it is important to get your house in order and make yourself happy before you commit to being the source of happiness for someone else.  I found the best way to be happy and don’t make someone else miserable is to abstain from offering unsolicited advice and help only when asked to do so, and if you have nothing good to say, just shut up.

  3. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Hi Gretchen, after long last!

    Perhaps true wisdom only clicks in in middle age, but IF we – inside – feel good about ourselves, it is quite enough. When we do things for others, it is because we want to: it is part of us. We are not so needy that we need some sign in return – cards, gifts, even thanks – to do for others what lies in our hearts.

    “Making the day for others” often needs only a smile and a warm HI . . . but there is no forethought in this for those of us who are upbeat anyhow. When we love life, it shows . . . and we leave a trail behind us. We usually are curious (at least I am as I am forever learning) so carefully listening to others is just plain fascinating. I always remember that we learn nothing if we dominate the conversation ourselves . . . and closeness with others comes in a give-and-take fashion — two people on the same track. But when a friend has problems, the kindest thing you can do is let them talk it out. We all know that only in “spilling it” to one we can trust will allow us to move on and forward. Remember: an interested person is an interesting person. Every day we are growing.

    We have to be ourselves or it shows. I can’t imagine not giving a smile or a word of greeting to those I am going to interact with . . .and frankly, more often than not, a new friend is made. If we “love life”, we are magnets very often. It can be the smile, it can be the inner glow, or the look of being on Cloud Nine — which seems to be my favorite place — I know it draws people, but I am not so egotistic that that is – in any way — my goal. I am “ME”, I give of myself as that is the person I am. . . and I have found that it is the only way to truly life life to the fullest. And THAT is truly wonderful!!

    Joan