Happiness consists in giving and in serving others.

Henry Drummond

It’s no secret that like love, joy is a universal language. It’s understood by every culture, and even across species. This form of energy can inspire world-changing ideas, solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems, or simply turn someone’s frown upside down. Joy is a powerful thing, and igniting it in others is one of the most powerful and rewarding experiences in life.

One of the most simple and profound ways to do this is to inspire a smile. Smiling is gesture of joy, and most of the time, we find ourselves smiling almost as a force of our being – our bodies command the smile of us when we see something silly, cute, or otherwise delightful, and the sensations of joy are sure to follow.

Here are five simply ways to inspire a smile in others:

1. Surprise!

I’ve found that one of the most defeating elements of life is the feeling of monotony. I’ve seen it in students, in friends and family members, and in myself. When you feel like the current set of situations is all there is, even if you know this to be untrue, a deep sense of lethargy and boredom can set in. In extreme cases, this can turn to a feeling of desperation and depression.

That being said, I’ve also found that surprises, both big and small, can be a tremendous way to shake people out of this. It can be a gift or something completely non-material, but surprises have a way of reminding people that life is full of variety. What is doesn’t always have to be, especially when you choose to do something about it.

2. Random Act of Kindness

Overburdening ourselves with work, school, or even groceries on the walk home isn’t uncommon. You can probably think of a few friends or family members who seem to be overloaded with responsibility. Likewise, you’ve probably seen complete strangers struggling with things obviously too big for one person to handle.

This is when an unsolicited helping hand can make a huge difference. Whether if its someone you know or someone you’ve never even met, your simple action of reaching out and helping another can not only inspire a smile, but inspire a change in attitude for an entire day, if not longer. Make it a personal challenge to drop what you’re doing and help another the next time you see the need. You might be surprised with the results.

3. Public Display of Positivity

This is sort of like a random act of kindness on a grandiose scale. I like to think of public displays of positivity as something of an example-setting exercise. It’s a behavior exhibited by an incredibly few people, ever, and the reactions of bystanders can range wildly.

An example might be holding a sign with a positive message, playing music without the goal of making money, giving away water or snacks in a park, or otherwise doing something positive in a public place for the purpose of doing something positive. The goal is to inspire that light in people – to get people thinking about what it is they’re seeing and why it makes them so happy. It’s here that you spread the message of joy at a large level.

4. Donate Your Time

“Time is money” – we’ve all heard the saying. And to many in the western world, there’s nothing more precious than our time. We fiend for it. We defensively guard it from outside influences, like work or imposing responsibilities. We downright value time more than anything, or anyone, else.

And that’s what makes donating your time so powerful. No matter where you live or what you do, there are causes that deal with the hardest parts of society that need your help. From animal shelters to low-income or homeless support centers to environmental non-profits, a good cause is never hard to find. And when you do find one, actively pursuing it and volunteering your time shows a lot to the people involved.

5. Donate Something Else

For some, donating time is literally something that just isn’t possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pass along the good things that have come to you in your life. Donating financially or in the form of goods, either new or used, is an incredible way to bring joy to others too. Food, clothes, appliances – all things you might have around your house in some form that you’ll actually never use – can directly help others in worse situations than yours. Ask yourself what you might have laying around, and then ask yourself what you have that you don’t really need. Chances are, you have a lot in life that you can use to inspire something amazing in others. All you have to do is get it to them.