What we all want in life is to be happy and peaceful.
We strive to achieve our goal of happiness in a myriad number of ways: Trying to expand our business, pursuing our hobbies and passions, accumulating wealth and possessions.
But a 75 year old study conducted by Harvard University reveals that the single most important factor crucial for happiness is not money or possessions, but relationships.
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period. Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains,” – Robert Waldinger, Psychiatrist, director of the Harvard study of Adult development, one of the most in depth study on emotional well being.
But it’s not about having a heap of friends but about the quality of bond that you share with those who matter to you.
So now that we know our happiness is dependent on the quality of our closest relationships.
How can we cultivate good relationships?
What factors impact the quality of our closest relationships?
From what I have learnt through a lot of research from various psychologists, neuroscientists and from my personal experiences is that:
Good relationships are built on two solid foundations:
Trust and Genuine Concern
Trust is the solid foundation on which any relationship is built. There can be no love, no friendship, and no lasting or fulfilling connection between two people.
When you trust that your partner has your best interests at heart, you do not doubt their intent and are willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work.
The second important factor that is crucial for building happy and healthy relationships is a genuine concern. When we truly love somebody, we care for their wellbeing and growth as much as we care for our own well being and growth.
When we truly love someone, we extend ourselves for the growth of the other person. That extension is sometimes uncomfortable and requires hard work and judgment.
“Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word “judicious” means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct; it requires thoughtful and often painful decision-making.”
― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
Building happy, fulfilling and long lasting relationships basically comes down to caring enough to give a F.U.C.K.
When we care, it shows in our actions.
“Love is as love does.”-M.Scott Peck
I have compiled a list of four thoughtful actions that can heal, save and transform any relationship into a happy, fulfilling, successful and long-lasting relationship.
You may think that forgiveness is something that you will offer to your partner only when they apologize or make amends but on the contrary, if you start to approach a situation from a standpoint of forgiveness, you will be in a better position to hear your partner and put your point across in a non judgmental manner.
Whenever a conflict arises, it is because your beliefs, values, and needs did not match with your partner’s for that particular situation and not because they are trying to hurt you.
These two are very different things.
What people do is generally a reflection of their values and belief systems and nothing more than an attempt to meet their own needs.
Forgiveness comes naturally if you understand the fact that whatever your partner did was not with the intent to hurt you or harm you.
Forgiveness gives you peace of mind and calm space to be open to listen to other person’s perspective.
And when you listen calmly, you might just find their perspective worthy of consideration as well.
Forgiveness is not a gift we give to someone else but to our own selves. It prevents us from becoming bitter or resentful and helps us to better understand the situation.
The two most important factors required for better understanding are empathy and deep listening.
Everyone has been born with different conditionings, values, preferences and belief systems. Everyone is at a different stage of evolution.
It is empathy that can enable us to step inside the shoes of another and understand why someone does what they do, what are their dreams, what are their hopes, what causes them pain, what brings them joy.