Seven Ways to Spread Smiles, Not Germs

1. Give the Unexpected.

Start with the people closest to you.  When was the last time (guys) you planned a meal and made it for your wife?  Do that.  You already do?  Keep being awesome.  Get up 20 minutes earlier than your wife, and make her favorite meal (and her favorite cup of fresh coffee).  I recommend omelets and sliced fruit.

For kids, a date together to a favorite eatery/play area/hike with your son/daughter—just the two of you—goes a long way to say that you love them and you care about their interests.  This gift of time together will strengthen your relationship.

For friends, offer to babysit their kids and give them the night out, or offer to host the next dinner and game night (Murder Mysteries are a good time, but not separately).

For co-workers, bring a delicious treat to the office, pick up their work-mail, make them a mix-CD, recommend an interesting podcast (How I Built This, and TED radio hour are a couple favorites).

For students, mix a game into the lesson (For English classes, Improv games work well with most stories, Mafia works well for war/detective/Crucible stories, and there’s always Kahoot for any subject); find creative ways to form groups based on personal interests, and bring treats for student birthdays.

2. Give Genuine Compliments.

It’s always good to notice new haircuts/clothes, but try to think of traits you truly appreciate in the people around you.  Do they continuously work hard?  Let them know that.  Do they listen well and include people?  Tell them at lunch.  Do they have a positive attitude?  Pop up next to them really fast like a gopher!  “Hey, Frank!  GREAT CODING TODAY!”

Or not.  However you choose to share, aim for five compliments today.

3. Plan a Mystery Night!

Take initiative and find something on your own (or on Groupon) that you know your friend/spouse would enjoy, and ask them to reserve a spot in their calendar for a Mystery Night.  Try a new, local restaurant, find a new hike, and treat them to a surprise haircut from behind!  (Don’t actually do that.)  Other options:  concerts, food/drink tours, waterfalls, animal shelters, IKEA (look for organizational tools), how-to classes, comedy shows, and of course – a Mystery Science Theater show!  It’s Rifftrax now, and I went to one in Milwaukee–it was beyond hilarious.  It nearly killed me.  My doctor says only one per year.

4. Use Inflections.

We can usually name the people in our lives that make a point of speaking with inflection, and often, they have the most interesting stories, and have such vibrant energy that we leave feeling positive, too.  Be that person.  Extra credit:  Try a British accent (or other) for as long as you can. (Link)  Use the Gollum impression (Link) for special occasions.

5. Try a Different Form of Walking.

This one is great with kids.   And weirdos.  And Monty Python fans.  Let me guess, you walk with alternating arm-to-leg movement, right?  Try one of these on for size: same arm-same leg strides, robot walk (or Robo-Boogie from Flight of the Conchords), lots of mini-steps like you’re a ninja, giant strides like Conan O’Brien, hops and windmills.

Use your judgement if this will fly at your work.  If it does, you should never quit

6. Smile Big and Often.

Grin with your “Good mornings” and all forms of communication.  It’s surprisingly contagious.  Fun fact: people can tell over the phone if you’re smiling.

7.  Say Thank You, and Mean It.

Give specifics for what you enjoyed, and show gratitude whenever possible.  Make the day count by showing your friends/family/co-workers you’re glad to be with them.