Want More Happiness? Light (Or Relight) Someone Else’s Candle
Whether we realize it or not, in every interaction we have the opportunity to light, dampen or relight someone else’s matches. When we are a little bit unkind, we may not realize that we have dampened that person’s last match. When we are a little kind, we may not realize that we have relit that person’s last match, or lit up the last match that was needed to set their inspiration aflame! It may not seem like much but each interaction can make a world of difference.
How can we light someone else’s matches?
1. First, Do No Harm
At the very least, we can avoid dampening someone else’s spirits. Hold your tongue when you are tempted to give voice to an unsolicited opinion or judgement, a censure of someone else’s viewpoint, or a discouraging remark to someone who is expressing their authentic selves or pursuing their dreams.
2. Allow Others Space To Be Themselves
This is another way to avoid dampening someone else’s matches. Refraining from exclusionary comments about other’s differences makes them comfortable. It encourages them to come out of their shell and be who they truly are. We have made major strides as a society in terms of creating a welcoming environment for different backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender expressions. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a start. This is ovious in every human interaction – the chance to make someone feel welcome or unwelcome.
3. Be An Advocate For Those Who Are At Risk
Certain populations in our society are especially at risk for having their book of matches dampened. Offering acceptance and support to such people is essential, but it takes more than that to create a safe space for them – speak up about that off-hand comment, and pro-actively learn about their experience of life, so that you can help to create a more open and accepting world for future generations.
4. Be Fearless With Praise
It costs absolutely nothing to offer a really fantastic compliment. It can really make someone’s day. The more specific you are about what makes someone amazing, the more you will blow on the embers of their fabulousness. We are all so accustomed to judgements and criticisms, so it may take a while for that warmth to find its way in, but again – you never know when that one thing you say can relight someone else’s match
5. Be Supportive of Others’ Dreams
I will never forget a casual comment made by an outer-circle acquaintance: “Go for it! Good things happen to good people.” What a kind thing to say, and yet how easy! I don’t think they knew how much that statement meant to me. Having someone else reflect back what is inside us is a pleasant experience.
6. Don’t Allow Others to Dampen Your Own Matches
Humans are like free radicals (nutrient-deficient cells that cause aging by stealing those nutrients from nearby cells). Hurt people hurt other people. Confused people confuse other people. If you can figure out a way to stay open to joy and love, and yet also have a force-field to keep out others’ hurtful remarks or actions, you are well on your way to be a match-lighter (or a re-lighter) and not a match dampener.
Not to mix metaphors, but this also calls to mind an ancient fable about a man who got to visit heaven and hell. To his surprise, they were exactly the same! A group of people sat a table full of delicious, fragrant dishes, and each person held a set of chopsticks that were too long. There was only one difference – in hell, everyone was trying to feed themselves, and they were all hungry, angry and dissatisfied. In heaven, everyone was feeding everyone else, and they were all happy and joyful. Similarly, encouraging the passion of those around you is the surest way to have your own spirit relit.