Engage In Relationships That Raise Your Happiness Quotient

Back to Expert
Pernille

Engage In Relationships That Raise Your Happiness Quotient

Posted 25 Jun 2017

Happiness & Health Coach

Pernille Kloeverpris

Engage In Relationships That Raise Your Happiness Quotient

The digital age has definitely changed the way we relate to one another. Today we have the opportunity to connect and make visual friendships with people from all over the world and most of us count Facebook friends into the hundreds and maybe even thousands, still research suggests that loneliness is rampant; it's a phenomenon that spreads like a silent epidemic.

Let me ask you: How many good friends do you think people have on average?

Meaning, if something goes really well, how many can you call to share your positive state? Or how many people can you rely on in difficult situations? (These are signs of strong intimate relationships).

Studies find that 30 years ago, before Facebook and back in the day where you had to be indoors to call someone, we had an average of three good friends, today this has shrunk to two! On top of that, more people report having no good friends at all.

Let’s explore the link between happiness and relationships, and the need to re-focus on our social skills for the sake of happiness. Why? Because it turns out that there’s one way very happy people differ from the rest: they are extremely social! 

Social relationships make a difference

HappinessPositive Psychology Founder, Professor Dr. Martin Seligman and Psychology Professor Dr. Ed Diener studied some real happiness champions to discover what defines them, and one thing was crystal clear: every single one of them had close supportive relationships. The conclusion in their ‘Very Happy People’ research is, that: “Social relationships form a necessary but not sufficient condition for high happiness - that is, they do not guarantee high happiness, but it does not appear to occur without them.” (Diener and Seligman, 2002).

Wired to connect

Looking into evolutionary literature, one thing is clear: evolution has shaped the human species to be good at connecting with others and to have the desire to reach out and affiliate and form connections. Scientists have found several dimensions to our social nature:

  • we are a care-taking species: not only for our own vulnerable offspring but also for others in need. This is unlike any other mammal or animal on earth!
  • we are fairly egalitarian compared to other species - we see other people as fairly similar to ourselves.
  • we are a reconciling species: when individuals are in conflict, instead of dispersing and moving away from each other, we reconcile.
  • we are a coordinated species: we imitate the behavior of others in our group (yawning, laughing, scratching our faces, moving in unison etc.). See for yourself next time you’re in a group of people.
  • we tend to gravitate towards partnerships to take care of vulnerable offspring.

Current science data suggests we’ve lost a bit of our sociality over the past decades: higher divorce rates, decline in marital satisfaction and in the numbers of close friends and a rise in loneliness are some of the symptoms and at the same time some obvious reasons why we need to start re-focusing on our sociability – the very stuff of Happiness!

Happiness practice – Active Listening

I guess we can all relate to when someone close wants to share something positive, but instead of taking time to let them re-live these positive moments we listen briefly and then ask: “what's for dinner?” Over-simplified yes(!), but my point is that too often we miss the opportunity to connect with people around us.

Active Listening is a tool that can help boost empathy and connection plus enrich your communication with others. You, as a listener will get a better understanding of other's perspective and you’ll help them feel better understood.

Here’s how to practice:

Chose a conversation partner (a partner or a close friend) and find a quiet place to practice – turn off your mobile phones.

Invite he/she to share what's on his/her mind. As he/she does, try to make use of some of the following steps:

  1. Paraphrase by saying “If I understand you right...”, “It sounds like...”, and “What I hear you say is …”, this is to make sure you understand and to show you are paying attention.
  2. Ask questions when appropriate (help speaker elaborate on his/her thoughts or feelings) and avoid jumping to conclusions.
  3. Express empathy. Try to consider why the other person feel the way he/she does, without judging. You might respond “I can tell that you are feeling frustrated” and even “I can understand how that situation could cause frustration”.
  4. Use engaged body language (facing the person, eye contact, nodding, and maintain an open and relaxed body posture).
  5. Avoid judgement and try not to interrupt. Your goal is to understand the other person's perspective and accept it for what it is, even if you disagree with it.
  6. Avoid giving advice. Often, we move quickly into advice-giving which can be counterproductive, as advice might not be what the other person actually needs.
  7. Take turns. When appropriate and after the other person has had the chance to speak, ask if it's okay for you to share your perspective. Make sure to use “I” statements and you can even express empathy for the other person's perspective.

Time: 10-15 minutes

Remember, active listening can be applied in any setting and in every part of your life. It will help prevent miscommunication, misunderstanding, and spare hurt feeling on both sides. So, go ahead, practice active listening with friends and family members. Not only will you learn how to be a better listener in general, but you’ll also create stronger bonds to people around you and that will enhance your feeling of well-being and it will make you feel happier as well.

Joyfully yours,

Pernille

Follow @Enritschinglives on Facebook
Share this article
Views | 860

Comments

3 people have commented this blog.

Post Comments
Jumeirah Jane

Jumeirah Jane says:

2 months 4 weeks ago
I've been following Enritsch since they launched and I'm really happy to see the many developments, including bringing people like you in Pernille who can provide excellent knowledge to help others to find inner peace and happiness. Well done to all of you. JJ
Pernille

Pernille says:

2 months 3 weeks ago
Dear JJ. Thank you for taking the time to write me and Enritsch. I'm delighted to know that you - and hopefully many others - do benefit from the work we do, that's the very essence of our vision. Best regards Pernille
Sarah

Sarah says:

3 months 3 days ago
Dear Pernille, assuming that every person on planet earth wants to find true happiness, in your view, what is the one key that can unlock the door to an abundance of happiness? I have read many articles on happiness and the personal and professional gains it can bring, but I'm looking for something simple and actionable that we can all apply in our daily lives, that may help lift our happiness quotient. In gratitude, Sarah
Pernille

Pernille says:

3 months 3 days ago
Dear Sarah, Thanks for posing this interesting question. The science of happiness provides us with many different practical tools relatively easy to apply in our everyday lives. You are asking for the most simple and the most effective one? Well...it depends. Happiness scientists talk about “person-activity fit”, and basically what it means is, that even when a happiness practice, such as gratitude journal for example, has been shown to boost happiness for people on average, it doesn't necessarily have the same positive effects on every single one of us. The effectiveness depends on the nature of the activity, the personality of the person trying it, and how good of a “fit” the activity is for that person. Extroverts individuals would most likely benefit most from social activities, while religious people would find more enjoyment practicing positive spiritual activities. In short, some activities simply work better for some than others. My best advice is to choose some happiness activities you think might suit you and test them out. It will be easy to feel whether it's something you enjoy doing. Joyfully yours Pernille
Rebecca

Rebecca says:

3 months 3 weeks ago
Really enjoying reading your posts on this site Pernille. Thumbs up!
Pernille

Pernille says:

3 months 3 weeks ago
Hi Rebecca, I'm really glad to hear you like my blog - thank you for your thumps up. Best regards Pernille

Recent Posts Category