Having strong relationships is one of the single greatest predictors of wellness, happiness, and longevity. And our connections flourish when we take time to get to know ourselves, and others, better. Here are three ways to strengthen the relationships you have, and nourish the ones that might need some work:
1) Be kind
Kindness is like a magnet. People like to be around others who are kind because they feel cared about and safe with them. The age-old Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would want them to do to you” still rings true today. It’s also reciprocal. When we practice kindness, not only do we feel better, but we help others feel good, too. And this just increases opportunities for positive connections throughout our day, which, in turn, contributes to our own health and well-being.
2) Identify Nourishing (and Depleting) Relationships
Take an inventory of your relationships to a get a sense for who’s nourishing you and who’s depleting you. See if you can spend more time with the nourishing people make stronger connections there. Try to spend a little less time with those who deplete you. This isn’t always possible, of course (ie: family members, coworkers, etc.), so in those cases, see if you can change your relationship a little bit by recognizing that those people may be dealing with some instability in their lives. Practice sending them some kind intentions using a loving-kindness mediation and see what comes up: “May they be happy, may they be healthy, may they feel safe, may they be balanced.”
3) Practice “Just like me”
DNA research has revealed that regardless of gender, ethnicity, or race, humans are 99.9% the same. If you want to foster a greater sense of connection in your life, as you go through your day and encounter someone who you think is different from you, silently say, “Just like me,” and see what you notice. You may just experience the awareness that each of us wants the same things: to feel cared for and understood, and to experience a sense of belonging.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is hosting an online course to help people fully integrate mindfulness into their lives in a deep way in order to realize more enduring change. The in-depth 6-month online course called A Course in Mindful Living runs in fall 2017—the waitlist is now open.