Dr. B is a naturopathic doctor in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of "Rules of Health," a comprehensive guide on healthy living.
It seems that a relationship Guru pops up every minute with advice on how to have a great relationship. Why are relationships such a hot topic? This may seem obvious, but some may not realize it. From the moment we are born, forming and fostering relationships takes up a majority of our time, and it seems like a no-brainer that being happy in relationships will translate to overall happiness in our lives. By nature, we are social creatures, and it makes sense that harmonious relationships are fundamental to our happiness. Some prominent psychologists propose that we are wired for relationships. We form bonds easily but are reluctant to break them. Our need to feel connected to other people, to love, and be loved is fundamentally human. Furthermore, it is not only relationships that influence our happiness but happiness, in turn, that can improve our relationships.
Research shows that not having close personal ties can create the same level of health risk as smoking or obesity. Having a network of social connections that provide support appears to increase our immunity, lowers our risk for heart disease and keeps our mind sharp as we age. Studies show that the quality of social interactions matters just as much as the quantity. Both influence our health and psychological well-being. Having hundreds of friends does not immediately make you happier and healthier. How supportive and secure these relationships are is what matters.
We have also learnt that the quality of our relationship with our inner social circle of our partner, children, parents, siblings and close friends is what’s most important for our well-being. Cultivating and investing quality time into these relationships will create long-term happiness. It may seem that extroverts have an advantage in this area, as they can easily socialize and be among people but there is good news for introverts. Having even a few close relations where one can share feelings with honesty is just as conducive to happiness. It has more to do with our ability to share ourselves openly without fear of judgment that creates that bond with the important people in our lives that increases our happiness. So, to answer the question that was asked in the title. I think relationships can bring one closer to real happiness provided one doesn't solely rely on relationships for their happiness but has also found other means of creating a fulfilling and enjoyable life.
Simple Steps to Harmonious Relationships
Let’s look at how we can engage and interact with people in order to create harmonious relationships that will, in turn, increase our happiness.
- Realize right from the beginning that this is not a competition to see who can make the most friends. Not everyone is going to like you and want to be your friend and that is okay. Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be who you are not just to fit into the image you think you should be. When you are your genuine self during your interaction with people you will attract those who most closely resonate with your frequency. These are the people who will like you for who you are and be the most compatible with you. These relationships will flow without resistance and provide you with opportunities to explore, grow and build equity for long term happiness.
- Try being a friend. Seemingly small acts of kindness can all have a ripple effect within our social network and spread happiness outward. Be full of compassion, patience and altruism towards others, especially those less fortunate than you. Helping others can produce a helper’s high, which can be a source of happiness and confidence.
- Families form the foundational relationship for most people. Cherish these relationships. Spend time with loved ones when you get a chance. Forgive bad blood and strive to focus on the positive in strained relationships. But don’t let your family be a source of stress. If you are the only one who is trying to make the relationship work with someone then you might be better off not being in that relationship. What’s often most helpful is making sure that we have the kind of people around us who can provide the type of support we need.
- know what your priorities are in life and in relationships. If you don’t know then find out. Spend time alone to meditate and introspect. Read my article on solitude and introspection to learn effective techniques in figuring this out. When you know what is important to you in relationships then you can attract the kind of relationships that will bring you fulfillment and happiness.
- Knowing what you want in a romantic relationship also makes it easier to know when to give in on the little things. Everything is not a big deal. Knowing what things are deal breakers for you in any relationship is helpful. Is it smoking or leaving the socks on the floor? What is truly important for you? Knowing this you won’t get so upset or emotional over the little things. Most of life is the little things anyways. Assign a priority rating for the issues that come up on a scale of 1 -10. If something is a 3 for you but an 8 for your partner then let it go and let him/her have it. Leave your strength to fight the big battles should they arise.
- Fight fair, in all relationships, but especially with your significant other. The quickest way to unhappiness is to harbor resentment and to hold grudges. Disagreements and conflicts are inherently inevitable even in the most picture-perfect relationships. How we resolve these conflicts will decide our happiness levels.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated. The world is a reflection of our thoughts and actions. What we put out there will come back to us. If you are kind and loving then the majority of people you interact with will be kind and loving to you.
- Lastly, put yourself in a good mood and see the effects spread outward within your social circle. Happiness is a choice most of the time. People feel like something good has to happen to them for them to become happy. But from most of my research, it seems the opposite works much better. Choosing to be happy by producing the feeling of happiness in you will attract circumstances and people that will reinforce that feeling of happiness and make it grow. So the lesson here is, don’t wait to become happy, instead be happy and wait for a beautiful life to unfold.
Here Are Some Suggestions for Productive Arguments
- Pick a time to argue when both of you are calm and do it in private. Don’t argue in the heat of the moment. You or your partner may inadvertently say something that cannot be taken back. Put a pause until both of you can have a rational discussion.
- Stay on the subject and don’t attack each other’s character, by bringing up past behaviors and actions. Use “I” Statements and not “YOU” statements when discussing how the situation made your feel.
- Try to come up with a solution instead of just playing the blame game.
- Try to give and take on issues and don’t always try to get your way, this is a partnership after all
- Lastly don’t play the divorce card. It leads nowhere and can escalate things rapidly in the wrong direction. If it truly has gotten to that level then both of you may need professional intervention.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Behzad Azargoshasb