Building positive relationships for happiness

Building positive relationships for happiness

Chris Peterson, one of the founders and leading lights in the positive psychology or science of happiness movement was once famously quoted as saying that in short, when it comes to happiness…other people matter. 

His succinct summary is supported by hundreds if not thousands of research publications all of which point to the benefits of having good quality relationships in our lives. Strong social support buffers against stress and depression AND promotes positive emotions such as happiness. 

So, with this in mind, I thought I'd share with you today 2 great recently published articles on how you can improve your relationships and find more happiness and love and health and wellbeing. 

The first article is titled "How mindfulness can enhance relationships" and was written by Joe Wilner for PsychCentral. It begins like this…

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.

There are three ways mindfulness practice can enhance partners’ relationships.

1) Mindfulness meditation promotes relaxation and neutralizes the stress response. Being mindful on our breath and body can be emotionally and physically relaxing, and provides a buffer against chronic stress. It allows us to just “be” with what is and calm the constant flow of thinking and emotional arousal that may follow.

As stress builds so can agitation and conflict, and mindfulness can be a shared activity to prevent conflict from mounting.

2) Mindfulness increases compassion and acceptance of one’s partner…

…keep reading the full and original artlcle HERE where you'll find even more tips. 

The second article comes from the Huffington Post and is titled "Women's happiness in relationships tied to men's empathy" and it starts like this…

When it comes to the tiffs (or the full-blown fights) that inevitably come up in relationships, it turns out that a woman doesn't need the man in her life to feel her pain. She just needs to think that he's trying to feel it.

In a new study from the American Psychological Association, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Bryn Mawr College worked with 156 heterosexual couples who had been together for an average of three and a half years. The point was to examine how important your significant other's 'perceived empathetic effort' — the degree to which he or she seems to be at least attempting to understand why you're feeling a certain way — is to you if you're a woman or a man.

For women, satisfaction in a relationship was most strongly associated with feeling that their partners' were making that effort — no matter whether their partners actually understood them or not.

“Women may place greater value on partners’ empathic effort, perhaps because this behavior emphasizes the desire and investment of their male partners to be attentive and emotionally attuned in the relationship,” the authors wrote in the study, which was published online by the Journal of Family Psychology.

For men, that effort mattered too, but a stronger indicator of their relationship satisfaction was whether they were able to identify when their partners were happy.

To find out how much couples value empathy, the researchers asked the participants in the study to watch videotapes of themselves with their partners discussing a recent incident that had produced disagreement. While watching highlights from the tapes, the men and women assessed what their partners had been feeling, what they had been feeling and how much their partners had attempted to understand the latter.

Recognizing signs that the other person was making an effort to empathize was important to both partners, but more so to women…

…and again, you can read more HERE

When you've finished, pop over to The Happiness Institute's Facebook page HERE and have your say. What do you think goes towards the best relationships?