What makes you happy in life? A glass of wine at the end of a long day? A weekend getaway? A long, hot bath, free from distractions? These things are wonderful, but according to experts, it’s our relationships with those closest to us that make us truly happy in life.
Decades of research from Harvard University suggests that good relationships, rather than money or status, are the key to good health and happiness. From 1939 to 2014, two huge studies tracked the physical and emotional well-being of male participants over their lifetimes. The only real difference between the studies was that some were Harvard graduates and the rest were poor men from Boston.
According to the studies, no matter what their financial situation or background, the men who had positive and close relationships with romantic partners and/or family and friends tended not only to be happier, but also live for longer. On the flip-side, those who had experienced extended periods of loneliness reported feeling less satisfied with life and were more prone to illness.
So, how do we maintain good relationships?
Maintaining strong relationships isn’t always easy. Despite often knowing what it is we’re looking for, actually finding it can be a whole different matter. If you’re feeling a little stuck, or just want a refresher, here are some tips from relationship experts Relate on cultivating happy relationships:
Communication—which includes talking and listening—is key to any successful relationship, and poor communication is often the top reason for animosity. It’s important to tell your family member, partner, or friend—clearly and consistently—how you feel so those small misunderstandings don’t turn into something much bigger.
When communicating with a loved one, it’s important that you not only try to communicate how you’re feeling, but also that you try to understand how they are. The problem is, we tend to get so caught up in the way that we feel that we are blind to the fact that others may see things completely differently, especially in times of conflict.
Conflict in relationships is not an inherently bad thing—in fact, sometimes there is nothing better than a respectful debate to clear the air. After all, differences of opinion are inevitable, but what matters is how you deal with them. Many of us just aren’t very good at arguing! Tips for challenging one another in a healthier way include using a respectful tone and being more forgiving of the other party.
Committing to any relationship means being willing to work on difficulties together and protecting and respecting boundaries, something that takes persistence, patience, and hard work. However, as you’ve read above, it is more than worth it in the name of a happy, healthy life.
After all, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Seven Ways to Spread a Little Happiness Today
Studies have shown that going out of your way to help another person not only makes their day a whole lot better, but it actually releases oxytocin—the happiness chemical—leaving you with a warm fuzzy glow! So, here are ten ways to spread some happiness today:
- Give someone a sincere compliment: Too many positive feelings go unsaid. If you notice your colleague really suits their new hairstyle or if the barista made you a really tasty coffee today, let them know!
- Make something for someone: You don’t have to be the next Bake Off winner to whip up a batch of cookies or some homemade bread, but a small gift like this can brighten up anyone’s day!
- Offer to run an errand: Sometimes the smallest tasks can pile up, leaving people feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Why not relieve some of the pressure by offering to help out where you can?
- Plant a surprise note: If your friend or family member is going away on holiday or even just out to work, pop a little note in their bag so they’ll know you’re thinking of them.
- Smile: It’s an old favourite, but a genuine smile can bring warmth and happiness to friends, family, and strangers alike.
- Listen: Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is just to listen. Listen to their ideas and plans, their worries and problems, without judgement.
- Donate to charity: It doesn’t have to be financial; clear out your unwanted clothes and items and drop them at a charity shop.
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -- Gautama Buddha circa 500 BC
We hope this blog post has helped to remind you how important relationships are for your happiness, and even your health! At Spa Experience, we know that shared experiences are a great way of keeping close to those you love. With that in mind, why not try one of our relaxing couple’s treatments with your romantic partner, or have a fun and relaxing group spa day with some of your closest friends?