In my view, offering others joy is of even deeper importance. As I've written, our only purpose in life is to offer ourselves and others joy. This is the essence of being human, of humanity. (See my posts, “What is Your Task in Life?” and “Offering Myself Joy!” And for the one exception, see my post “Evil - How Should a Buddhist Respond?”)
Before going any further, it would be good to remind the reader what the definition of joy is in the Buddhist context. It is not fun; it is not laughter; it is not excitement. Joy is a spiritual feeling that resides in the heart. It is a feeling of purity and goodness. It is a feeling of lightness. It is a feeling that can only be experienced free of the influence of the ego-mind. (See my post, “Joy - At Last Real Understanding.”)
You offer yourself joy by taking pleasure in each passing moment, being free of any desire for the present moment to be different in any way from what it is right now; being in touch with the positive energy, the joy, in your heart at all times; and having unconditional compassion for yourself.
But how does one offer others joy? Most people would say that you do this by doing good things for people, by giving them things that they want. This may indeed make someone happy, but it does not offer them joy. Remember, joy is a spiritual feeling about oneself and one's relationship with the world around you.
To understand the answer to this question, we first need to remind ourselves why most people, including ourselves, suffer. People suffer because they were raised ... whether by their family, their social circle, or the prevailing culture ... in a manner that created deep feelings of insecurity which led to feelings of fear and anxiety, among others. We feel we are not listened to, we are not respected. We are thus consumed by our feelings of insecurity and the related emotions of anxiety, fear, anger, resentment. The list goes on and on.
If we want to offer others joy, then at a minimum we should not add to their suffering and hopefully help them feel good about themselves. One way of doing both is by showing others that you have faith in them doing whatever it is they set out to do. By always being a positive support next to them. By honoring them. And by seeing them as yourself.
How does this translate into real life actions? How do we implement this? Most people do not have a lot of faith in themselves. Even if they are full of bravado, deep down they do not have faith in themselves; their bravado is a facade. So the first step in offering joy is to show them you have faith in them by not interjecting yourself into their process. Because when you do that, the impact is that they feel you don't trust their ability to sort things out themselves; if necessary to learn from their own mistakes. And that undermines their own self-confidence.
There are several ways of implementing this intent. This first is to not challenge or question them. The second is to not finish their thoughts or restate their thoughts. The third is to not interrupt them, correct them, or think for them. Fourth, do not doing anything for them unless asked. Finally, do not put in your two cents unless asked directly.
This is very, and I mean very, hard for most of us to do. Why? Because we are subject to our own egos. We think that we have the answers or at a minimum that we can help the process the other person is going through. It can be something as simple as how to drive from point A to point B, or something very complex.
If you think about it, you will find that in your interactions with others, you regularly do all the things that I just listed one shouldn't do if you want to show someone you have faith in them doing what they set out to do. If you intend to offer them joy. You may think this all sounds silly; that people need to grow up, that's life. But think about how you feel when someone does these things to you.
This does not mean that you can never have input, make a suggestion to someone. But the timing of your comment and how it is made is of critical importance. Basically, you never interject in the middle of the process, while it is happening. You wait for a quiet time, like at dinner, when you can bring something up, comment, and what you say has a chance of being received with equanimity.
The next step is being a positive support for people. We do this by always being in touch with the positive energy in our heart and the neutrality of our senses, free of the intervention of our ego-mind. Then we are free of worries and concerns; then we are full of faith in the other person. And so when we speak, we will always do so in a way which offers positive support.
The next way to make people feel good about themselves is to honor them. This means paying attention, listening, to what the other person is saying. Stopping whatever you're doing when he or she speaks and turn your body towards him. Every person deserves your undivided attention when they speak. Again, if the other person feels that you are not paying attention to them, then that activates feelings of lack of respect from their learned experience.
Finally, you help insure that you perform the steps mentioned by seeing the other person as yourself. By seeing their needs and your needs. Their need, for example, for boundaries as your need for boundaries. Their need for respect as your need for respect. Their need for self-confidence as your need for self-confidence. And by seeing things through their eyes, their perceptions. If you step into someone's shoes and understand where they are coming from, then you are more likely to be on guard for things you would otherwise automatically do that could harm the other person. And stop yourself from doing them.
This will also make you a better listener, because if you're thinking about your reactions while someone is speaking, you really can't hear what they're saying. The time for your perceptions is later.
Again, this is all a real challenge for most of us. It means adopting a very different perspective in our relations with others, whether it's our loved ones, colleagues, or strangers. But if you truly want to experience joy, if you want to connect with your heart, your true Buddha self; if you want to offer others joy rather than just stroke your ego-mind … then your intent should be to implement these steps.