# Make someone feel

On a recent trip my Dad was telling a story which I guess everyone back home has heard numerous times by now, but was fresh to me, about a time he had to spend some time in jail. He got a weekends-jail deal, anyway grandma dropped him off once and to try cheering him up said something like (not sure of the exact phrasing) "Maybe you can make someone happier in there." Of course Dad then was like "No mom, it's jail! No one's going to be happy!" and slammed the door. But however she really said it, the sentiment is such a her-thing to have said. Maybe something like her life motto? She always tried to make people happy and was usually good at it. Super kind. It'd be nice if she were still around.

Despite not inheriting such great skill, I think it's a good idea to keep in mind especially for less than ideal situations for both yourself and those around you... If you can make someone happy, or at least try and think of some ideas to do so, that's often a lot better than many other alternatives like doing nothing or just wallowing. There may be other things you can do too though, so don't neglect them (and for some people kindness seems to hurt and they really would prefer you left them alone or expressed sympathy in less direct ways).

I think I recall reading somewhere of a parent making sure to ask their child after school over dinner what they did that day to make someone's day better, if anything. My immediate reaction to such an idea is that I wouldn't want to put this pressure on my own child as I sort of see it as a cousin to misguided philosophies about living for the sake of others, but I think that's more of an adult perspective and not really appropriate here, especially because such heavy-handed perspectives are cousins to other misguided philosophies about any form of sacrifice being evil. People are just trying to be more kind every day, that's typically a good thing. For a kid especially, the acts of kindness can be very small and still matter, like holding open a door, or a nice compliment, or giving up some table space at the cafeteria, or a hug to someone who needed one, or... it's probably good to engage a kid's creativity this way too.

Anyway just thinking about that grandma-ism and my own memories of her was a nice reminder to keep trying for more kindness rather than less, and made me want to reflect on these things, and a bit on the expression "make someone feel X", whether that's happiness, or rage, or love, or whatever. The idea that you can induce feelings in others is deeply embedded in our language, and not just English, either. And while the most powerful ways of making people feel things are with actions, even mere words can have an effect. Despite some sayings like "sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me", words can sometimes hurt, or bring joy, or inflame the passions... now what you do about those feelings seems significantly more in your own control than the feelings themselves, but that's another topic. Still, some nerds (like me) would prefer to act as if the "sticks and stones..." phrase was true at least for ourselves and so we blame ourselves for our own thoughts and feelings at least when it comes to reading or hearing things (I would certainly blame someone else for feelings of pain if they were torturing me); this is similar to the perspective of Crocker's Rules, and to declare we follow such we say it's ok to be rude to us, to not worry about (accidentally or intentionally) making us feel negative things with words. But this is an uncommon and weird thing to do and of course it should always be pointed out that it's one way only, not reciprocal. And again, there are other ways than words to make people feel happy, or sad, or in awe...

#### Posted on 2022-10-17 by Jach

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