I've heard that counselors often give a surprising prescription to depressed people: service. Care for someone else. Encourage someone else. Do something nice for someone else. And that will make you happier.
While I've never been clinically depressed, I can attest to the truth that showing kindness increases your happiness. Our culture loves to cite self-care as the cure-all for our emotional needs. But it seems like selfless-care is what really works. The path to joy is paved with humility. Self-focus is what gets us into trouble in the first place. It's praying and positioning that our will would be done, that our kingdom would be built that breeds cyclical disappointment, frustration, shame, and sorrow.
True happiness comes from loving God and our neighbor and serving both without compulsion. And God blesses that.
My mom often reminds me to encourage others just for the sake of kindness — to cheer someone up, to make someone's day, with no ulterior motive, just because kindness is powerful. Random acts or words of kindness have the potential to change lives. They are surely a delight to the Creator and Fount of all kindness.
So today, whether you feel sad or disappointed or brilliantly cheerful, would you do a random act of kindness? Text someone. Email them. Tweet them. Clean for somebody. Pay it forward. Call your grandparents. Buy a co-worker coffee. Pray for someone and then tell them you prayed for them. Look for opportunities and then snatch them up.
And if you do, you will go to bed tonight and realize that made you happy.