There was a recent study which attempted to describe what makes people happy. Some hypotheses were put forth before the study: beauty, riches, success, etc. The study showed that none of these were significant in happiness. The key to happiness is close relationships. Since most of us would declare that we would like to be happy, then it would follow that it would benefit us to build good close relationships. But, frankly, there is not a whole lot we can do to cultivate healthy relationships. Techniques don’t work. It’s more a matter of who we are in relationships rather than what we do. So what are some ways of being in order to have good relationships?
· Be someone who listens – this is found at the heart of every good relationship. We need the ability to listen and understand what another person is saying. We need to take the time to hear what is behind the words – the real message.
· Be someone who is safe – a close relationship is built on feelings of security. Don’t play games. As long as we don’t feel safe, we are not going to open up and be real. We cannot be genuine.
· Be someone who helps – we need to help because we want to not because we have to. “That’s what friends are for.”
· Be someone who walks in another’s shoes – we have to learn to see the world from the other’s perspective as much as we can. This helps us begin to understand why they might react, think, and feel the way they do. This takes work as it doesn’t come naturally. It takes us choosing to see life from the other’s perspective – it is a deliberate choice on our part. It also shows a genuine interest and caring. Who among us does not wish to be truly known and understood?
· Be someone who receives – there needs to be a give and take in relationships on order to keep both people in balance.
· Be someone who weathers turbulence – disagreements will happen. This usually is indicative that both people are beginning to go beneath the surface and talk about their true feelings, thoughts, etc. It may be uncomfortable, but mature people will understand that these times can lead us to deeper, more real, more genuine relationships.
· Be someone who knows when to call it quits – some relationships are not worth the work. Yes, all relationships need nurturing, but some are just not going to make it. If we are in a relationship that leads us to do things we don’t want to do or allows others to do things to us that we do not want, this relationship is not healthy. If we are in a relationship in which we are constantly trying to win the person’s approval or we never feel accepted, this is not a good relationship.
Remember, in building relationships, it is best to examine ourselves to determine who we are – what kind of person we are – rather than focusing on what we do. What we do will flow from who we are.