Archives for Relationships
Mother's Day has arrived and it's time to celebrate the unique responsibilities, challenges and excitement of motherhood. If you’re a mother, this post is an offering to your happiness and contentment, and a reminder of the indispensable role you fill. Mothers are a unique leader of their children and family. They fill a crucial role of teaching future generations the power of living a loving and compassionate life. This is because mothers live with a sense of love that is unmatched by most. They approach life with a caring and courageous heart and the decisions they make are anchored in love. A few of the leadership qualities mothers convey include: joy, hope, love and compassion.
We live in a society where people spend billions of dollars annually on their pets, and according to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet. Clearly many people view their pets as a part of the family and more than merely a wild animal. In my life I have always appreciated and loved our family dog and everyone in my immediate family holds their dog near and dear to their heart. In my personal experience, dogs, and pets in general, bring joy, amusement and affection on a daily basis. Having a pet in our lives can create wonderful memories and an attachment that is long lasting. I am obviously biased toward dogs, and toward an affirmative yes with the title of this post. What about you? Is your experience with having pets full of positive emotion and affection?
If you haven't accepted that social media is becoming an increasingly important factor in the socialization of youth and adults alike, you're simply behind the times. Every generation from Baby-Boomers to Millennials utilize mobile devices and online technology to communicate and interact. Online communication technology is now a staple of peoples' daily life, and because of this people are able to communicate more often with more people than ever before. This increase in communication would intuitively appear to be a positive thing, as research has revealed the value of intimate relationships on well-being and happiness. However, whether online social networking lends itself to the same level of meaning and significance in relationships is another question.
Even happy and well-adjusted couples struggle with stress and life challenges. When these difficult periods emerge it's important for partners to remain composed, positive, and dedicated to working together. One practice that a couple can do to grow closer, that is easy and wholesome, is mindfulness meditation. Specifically, Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement (MBRE) has been shown to be an effective way to boost stress coping skills and increase personal well-being. This is adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, and serves the same general purpose of experiencing present moment awareness, and gaining insight into habitual patterns of thoughts, feelings, and interactions with others. When applying this concept to relationships specifically, it provides an opportunity to enhance joy, compassion, and connectedness.
What is it that draws you to other people? Is it how they look, their intellect, their talents? Some people have a "type" that they are drawn to and who they seek out to build a relationship with. Starting to consider what you really look for in a partner is crucial to have a lasting and fulfilling relationship. When we know our personal values, what is right for us, and the ingredients of a healthy relationship, we are able to navigate through a world where lust and immediate gratification are pushed as priorities. People are also meeting and connecting with each other in different ways, such as online dating sites or social networks, and this can add a new dimension to connecting with others in a meaningful and genuine way. There are so many different people in the world it can seem like they're too many fish in the sea for us to choose from.
We all have different personalities. Some people are more introspective and calm, and others are more outgoing and gregarious. I tend to be more introverted, and because of this I have had to put effort into developing lasting relationships. I have to be intentional with my interactions and work to put myself out there. As well, I have learned that the quality of my interactions with others depends significantly on how I'm feeling and the mood I'm projecting. In order to expand and build relationships, the place to start is with us. We must learn to manage our emotions and foster more joy and delight to connect with others. In a previous post I mentioned how the trait of extroversion relates to happiness and life-satisfaction. People with a wider range of social connections tend to be happier. We are social creatures, and expanding and building deeper relationships is in our best interest even if we're not comfortable with this.
Every relationship has its high and low points; people change, we experience unexpected misfortune, and sometimes we simply forget the effort required to make relationships work. It's during these times that the durability and fortitude of a relationship can be seen. Conflict is going to happen but it doesn't have to last and turn into bitterness and resentment. As we learn to find and accentuate the positive in our relationships they become more satisfying and when conflict emerges it's easier to work through. According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (2009), "a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments predicts long-term marriage stability, while a ratio of 0.8:1 or lower predicts divorce."
As the holiday season closes in, it leads me to sympathize with the many communities that lack caring, kindness and unity. It's easy to go through life with our own personal priorities and forget about everyone else. We can have so many things to do with so little time to do them, that we forget to look at the bigger picture beyond ourselves. Though more than ever, our society is in need of caring and responsible citizens willing to help others and give back to the greater good. I don't believe the holiday season has to be stressful and commercialized. The purpose of the holiday season is to really embrace the joy, hope, and generosity that surround us.
I came across a very inspiring video that offers insight into an important topic of positive psychology. You can watch the video below. In this recent TED talk, author, ecologist, teacher, and Zen Buddhism priest Joan Halifax shares the virtues of compassion and empathy, and how these traits are necessary for our existence and a fruitful future. Compassion is how we connect with others in times of grief and despair. It allows us to take action and have the strength to alter others' suffering. It also supports us in being resilient and persevering through difficult times. Compassion allows us to make our community a better place. It connects us to others' pain in a way where we want to make a positive difference in their lives. Compassion can benefit almost any relationship, though there are many areas where a compassionate nature can be utilized most constructively. If you work in a social services field or are a teacher, compassion can help you maintain the strength to encourage others as you benevolently serve them.
When someone approaches you with those two apologetic words, "I'm sorry," are you able to respond in kind with those ever important words, "I forgive you?" In order to have a healthy and positive relationship we must learn to forgive. There are of course many other characteristics of a healthy relationship such as trust and honesty, communication skills and a willingness to compromise - though forgiveness may be one of the most important components of a positive relationship. When it comes to relationships there will always be disagreements, different opinions, and moments of frustration, and how we deal with this drama is crucial for relationship success. If we go through life holding onto resentment and cynicism, this negativity will build and build, ultimately leading to a relationship full of animosity. However, if we can learn to forgive others and let go of bitterness and insult, our relationships can actually improve. In fact, research reveals that forgiveness may be one of the more valuable attributes to maintaining a healthy relationship.