We all want to feel happy and one of the most important questions we can ask is what actually makes us happy. Do we have to invest our time and energy in obtaining diplomas, having a good career and achieving wealth? Or is there anything else that is worth our investment.
Our relationships are the cure
The Harvard study, which lasted from 1939 to 2014 and in which more than 700 people were involved, shows that our happiness is directly related to our relationships. Connectedness is the key to true happiness and no diploma can compete with that. To feel happy, we need to have close and meaningful relationships with our family, friends and loved ones.
Meaningful, what does that mean?
A meaningful relationship is a relationship with equality and respect as starting points. It is a relationship in which we feel safe and secure to express our authentic self. We feel connected, accepted and appreciated and we want the other person to feel that way too. Such relationships keep us happy and protect us against physical and mental decline. We experience even less physical pain because our nervous system is calmed down.
Quality over quantity
The study shows that our happiness does not depend on the number of relationships we have but on their quality. Relationships with many conflicts and without much affection are bad for both our happiness and our health. It’s the good, warm relationship that makes us happy and offer protection.
How do you enter into meaningful relationships?
Try to be yourself as much as possible so that you attract the right people who want to make a real connection with you. Focus not only on what you need in a relationship, but also on what valuable contribution you can make to the other. Adjust your expectations and unwritten rules about how to maintain good relationships. Do not impose yourself to have weekly contact or to meet in person every month. If you do not maintain this, it can be at the expense of a meaningful relationship. You can periodically check whether you are freeing up enough time for the important people in your life. If that is not the case, you can immediately pick up the phone and agenda to arrange something.
If you have had unpleasant experiences in the past and you find it difficult to trust people and maintain relationships, consider discussing this with a professional. It is definitely worth your energy.
Cherish your relationships
Call your aunt you haven’t seen in a while, send a WhatsApp to your brother to show your appreciation and find a nice (digital) card to let that loved one know that you are thinking of him or her. You may be surprised how much real connection can adhance your life!
With Love and Care,