Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does that mean?
This is an interesting quote due to the metaphor it uses. Happiness as a potion, a liquid like perfume, to be poured out onto another. It has a certain ring to it, and it would be nice if it was that easy.
However, in my mind, the point of the metaphor is to show the one sided-ness of happiness. People often do things that mean little to them for the sole reason that it helps bring happiness to another. To me, that is what the pouring is about.
For those among us who can cause a spill just pouring a glass of water, the thought of not being able to dispense happiness without making a bit of a mess is equally interesting.
In my view, even unrequited love results in a little spill on the person doing the pouring. The bulk of the happiness (and the whole point of the exercise) is experienced by the target of the affection. However, the act itself brings a little happiness to the doer, even if in the long run it brings sorrow.
Why is helping others important?
While happiness actually resides inside each of us, there are times when a little something from the outside can help. A hug after a hard day. Flowers, candy, a nice meal, an evening out and away from it all, these are things that don’t actually cause happiness, but can allow one to more easily walk the path from where you are to get to your happy place.
Doing things to help others help them feel happy for many reasons. They might appreciate the help. They might appreciate the thought that they were considered by someone else to be worthy of helping. They might enjoy the company while being helped, or many other reasons.
To me, what is important is that the load has been made lighter, and that the spirit of the other person has been lifted. There may be other benefits that you derive from the assistance provided (a return splash of happiness from them back to you), but the point is to help others for their sake, not just yours.
Where can I apply this in my life?
My wife does what this talks about fairly often, in my opinion. She keeps a very busy schedule, but has no problem carving out a couple of hours to bake chocolate chip cookies for the kids and I. And, yes, it takes that long to make a weeks worth of cookies for this household. 8)
She doesn’t eat many (if any), and it keeps her on her feet in the kitchen, when she could be relaxing in her comfy chair and reading a book. She does it, I’m convinced for the reason the quote says, some of the happiness she is pouring on us splashes on her as well.
Who are some of the more important people in your life? Grab some paper and write down about a dozen or so people. They can be old friends who you haven’t talked to in a while. They could be family, people at work, or friends from social groups. Try to get at least one from each group.
Now take a moment and write down a couple things you know they would like, that might bring some happiness to them. While chocolate chip cookies might work for some people, for those on a diet, it might not be such a happy time.
What else could you do? Is there something you could do for them, a chore, helping with a task? Keep in mind the person and the role. A hug might be OK in a social group, but probably a bit much for work. Try to get at least two things for each person.
Now write down what the benefit for you is when you pour a little happiness on them. With that fresh in your mind, which person (or persons) will you be pouring a little happiness on tomorrow? What can you do to brighten their day, and what will you get from doing the act?
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better already. A little pre-happiness, I guess. I can’t wait to spread a little around. Getting a little on me, of course, is just a side benefit. Happiness, let’s spread some around!
From: Twitter, @AR_Foundation
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jamesvande312133.html credited as being by James Van Der Zee, but most often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (who was born more than 60 years earlier).
Photo by Robert S. Donovan