Neither money nor fame can guarantee you will experience a fulfilling life. However good relationships can.
That’s what Robert Waldinger, Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, concluded after studying 724 men over the course of 75 years.
Despite the wealth, careers and opportunities these men had, their overall happiness and health were primarily impacted by the quality of their relationships with friends, family and spouses.
It sounds simple – but building and maintaining quality relationships takes time and work, and many of us lose touch, drift apart, or become frustrated with our friends or family because we underestimate the effort it takes to maintain them.
Here are some tips on how to keep strong relationships with the people who matter most.
Misunderstandings (and fights) are most commonly caused by poor communication. If your friend or partner has hurt or upset you, let him or her know so you can work on fixing it together. Don’t let a small problem manifest into large issue.
Give what you want to get
If you want to feel more love, give more. Be proactive and put in the effort you’d like the other person to invest in your relationship.
Do your best to approach people with compassion. Think conversation over confrontation; listen first to understand before trying to be understood.
You cannot force someone to change. If you try to alter someone’s behaviours or characteristics by what you perceive to be constructive criticism, there is a good chance that they will start distancing themselves from you and they may even develop resentment. Look within first and focus on what you can control.
Don’t forget about you
Everyone has personal needs, and it’s important to maintain independence in any relationship. Take care of yourself so that you are mentally and physically able to care for others when they need you.
Observe and assess
I believe we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If a relationship continues to leave you feeling down, frustrated, and even angry, it’s probably time to assess the quality of that relationship. Ask yourself if the patterns that you observe are serving you or hurting you. If needed, leave the relationship but find the learning lesson from that time in your life to bring closure to that relationship.
Helen Marie Fox is a health and performance coach who has helped hundreds of individuals and groups perform at their best. Her strategic approach to goal achievement leaves people armed with the knowledge, skills and essential mindset required to create change. Read more.