“No man is an island.” This is a cliché we all hear time and time again, and for good reason: it’s a great piece of wisdom. Throughout the entire humankind existence, we have learned to build communities, and build communities within those communities, finding people we can trust and depend on, people we can turn to for help in times of need.

Oftentimes, we even have different go-to people for different problems we need help with. There is our life coach, our relationship guru, our business expert, our mom friend, and our partner in crime who will most definitely help us hide a dead body. As you’re reading this, you’ve probably thought of your friends who fit the descriptions. We are blessed to have these people in our lives.

However, a lot of people, even you, have this tendency of offering advice when asked for help. On its own, it’s not necessarily a bad thing- a good, solid advice can go a long way. But an advice is not a helping hand. You have to know the difference when someone is asking for your wisdom or for your actual help.

So, what are the ways you can help someone without offering them advice?

Be physically there for them.

Your presence matters. You are a live, tangible reminder that they are not alone, and that they have someone they can count on. Sometimes, your presence can even be literally what they need, like when a friend is moving houses, or is too shy to go to a party on her own.

Listen.

There are times when people don’t need either your advice nor your help. They just need a sounding board so that they can vent out their problems. Ranting itself is a good way to de-stress and stop freaking out about our predicament, and saying our problems out loud can help us sort through our thoughts and even figure out a solution.

Ask.

Not everyone is an open book who will readily tell you all their thoughts and feelings. A lot of times, to better understand the whole picture, you need to ask questions. Most of all, you need to ask them what kind of help they need. Don’t just offer what you think will help them. 

Offer help.

 Sometimes, our friends will readily ask us for help. But there are some who will be reluctant to do so. Maybe they feel it undermines their independence and their ability to stand on their own. Maybe they are too embarrassed to admit that they need something.

Whatever the case is, be proactive in offering whatever help you can give. Whether or not they need or accept your help, the fact that you offered is a steady reminder that they have people they can count on.

Be a ray of sunshine.

Sometimes, there is nothing much we can do for our friends, no matter how much we would like to help them out. Maybe we are not the right person to help them, or maybe they need to figure things out on their own.

But one thing we can always be is to be their ray of sunshine, no matter how temporary. Making them smile, or laugh, or forget their problems even just for a few minutes can spell the difference.

At the end of the day, we are all that we have, so let us do our best to always be there for each other. We can all make a positive  change in the world, one person at a time.