Happiness and Relationships

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.

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12 thoughts on “Happiness and Relationships

  1. RichardD says:

    This was a very good reminder. Thanks for the detailed items too. It is so very hard in today’s world to build and maintain solid relationships with others. Proverbs 18:24 tells me that if I want to have friends I must show myself friendly. This post helps define what “friendly” means.

  2. Sandy says:

    Thanks for the comment, Richard. It’s something I’ve been pondering for a while.

  3. Brandi says:

    Sandy – Wonderful post! As I read through your comments I could not help but do a mini-inventory of my relationships…current and former. It was readily obvious that those relationships in which I have been able to simply be real…and those that both of us were to some extent able to adhere to those items that you commented on are precisely the relationships that have not only endured…but have truly flourished!

    SELF ASSESSMENT:
    As I examine myself in light of this information…I must confess that there are a few of these areas that I do struggle with…

    (I would love to hear if anyone else struggles as I do…)

    (1) “be someone who receives” … I struggle with this one because I find myself feeling that when someone “gives” to me, regardless of their true intent, I typically perceive that I “owe” them…and I absolutely detest the way that feels…with my deeper relationships this is certainly not an issue, praise God…because I don’t feel as if they expect anything in return…but in other relationships it seems that more often than not they are indeed expecting something in return. Ugh!

    (2) “know when to call it quits” … I don’t know if I am just a glutton for punishment or just have really poor boundary setting skills (probably both )…but I have a very difficult time just letting a relationship go…being able to simply emotionally detach myself from an unhealthy relationship…and not being so concerned about whether that person likes me or not …I am getting much better at it…but still not great at this! 

    (3) “be someone who listens” …this is one that I have to simply keep in check…I think I have spent so much of my life trying to find my “voice”…so desperate to simply be heard…that I tend to talk much more than I should…I love to hear other people’s hearts…but I find myself wanting them to hear mine too! …which often prevents me from being the listener that I need to be. Again, I am working on it!!! 

  4. Sandy says:

    Brandi,

    It was partly our converstation the other day which prompted this post. 🙂

    I also struggle in certain areas here. I had a close friend (of over 35 years) tell me just yesterday that I have a fault in that do not like to ask for help. She was reminding me in her way, that in order for our relationship to stay equal, balanced, and mutual, I need to receive. Not easy sometimes for me. I can tend to be independent to a fault. I can hear my 4 year old granddaughter saying, “I can do this myself.” LOL She inherited this attitude from her grandy. 🙂

    I also obviously struggle with calling it quits. 🙂 I sometimes think I am too hopeful when it comes to others with whom I’m involved. It’s very easy for me to see the potential and the best in others (even though I can see the faults too). I struggle with giving up on relationships but sometimes it’s best for both people int he relationship and can sometimes be the more loving thing to do (think Cloud and Townsend here).

    I’m also working on it! 🙂

  5. areeya says:

    I think only good relationship make happiness.

  6. Lynn says:

    I don’t have a problem receiving, but I do have a problem knowing when to call it quits sometimes.

    I have found that there are people I start off with, whom I instantly like, but for some reason or other, they don’t like me or else are indifferent, and then there are people who seem to like me that I don’t have an affinity toward.

    It’s real special when friendships just “click.” I’m glad I have a few of those.

  7. Brandi says:

    “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another,
    What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
    C.S. Lewis

    Sandy…”What! You too? I thought I was the only one!”… 🙂 Such a relief to know that I am not alone in my struggles!! And, I feel so blessed to have begun a new “friendship”!! (I see exactly why this is one of your favorite quotes!)

    It is such a comfort to know that other women of God have the same types of struggles…and are willing to share it openly! It has been my experience, as I look across the church pews of so many of our fellowships, so many women are doing all they can to “appear” as if they have it “all together”…after all, the lady in front of her…or beside her or just behind has it all together, right? NOT!! Heaven forbid we actually feel safe enough to admit to anyone that we in fact do not have it all together!! The truth being that none of us do!

    There are so many that are wounded, in desperate need of someone to help them…but the tragedy is that they may never reach out for that help. So many have bought into the lie that if they struggle…if they are wounded…if they are hurting then it somehow makes them less of a Christian…less of a person…less of a Godly woman…that somehow they are spiritually deficient… and as a result they stay in bondage…and satan succeeds in crippling yet another believer…

  8. Sandy says:

    Lynn,

    Yes, sometimes friendship just clicks and that’s always a wonderful thing. Sometimes it grows slowly over time. Both are special.

    Brandi,

    Yes, it’s important to know that we are not the only ones! Glad you’re here, friend.

  9. thatmom says:

    Sandy, these are such wise statements. We cannot control another person but we can become the best person and the best friend to others by doing these things.

    I also wanted to comment that it is very true that there are some relationships that are not based on sincerity and those are the ones that we need to exit. I went through this experience once after years of being used and manipulated. It has been quite liberating to no longer have to deal with the frustration and hurt that it caused. How much more rewarding and spiritually uplifting it is to relish genuine fellowship and mutual care and concern. Thanks for these wise words, Sandy.

  10. RichardD says:

    I, too, have trouble receiving in a relationship. And I think that sometimes I smother my friends – almost like I’m trying to earn their friendship. And I think sometimes that scares people off. I also need to learn to shut my mouth and listen (or to put away my keyboard and read).

    We have also found that folks who don’t take well to our son (because of his unique issues) cannot be our friends. It simply makes it too uncomfortable.

    I think another thing we all need to do is to put time into our schedules to be with friends. Our lives are so busy these days that it is easy to allow friendships to drop to a lower priority and I think those friendships should actually be held as one of the highest priorities.

  11. Sandy says:

    Karen,
    You are so right in that those relationships that are noy based on sincereity are the ones we should exit. A lack of sincerity certainly on either side causes the realtionship to be unhealthily unbalanced.

    Thanks for the link, BTW And thanks to you too, Lynn. I appreciate the validation you both give me for these posts. Thanks!

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