Looking for a sure-fire way to improve quality of life for you and others around you? You may be surprised at how “right in front of you” the answer is.
Of all the great teachings of Positive Psychology, one of the messages we love the most was taught by Dr. Christopher Peterson (1950 – 2012), one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology. Chris accomplished many incredible things in his life, yet he may be most remembered for his classic, 3 word statement (the one he both stated and lived),”OTHER PEOPLE MATTER!”
When it’s all said and done other people (and the relationships we build with them) truly are what matters most. In fact, research shows that the single biggest predictor of human happiness is the quality of a person’s relationships. Furthermore, a major study on the topic, of over 3 million people, concluded that people with stronger social relationships had 50% increased likelihood of survival, compared to those with weaker social relationships. The actual study reports the following:
The quality and quantity of individuals’ social relationships has been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality…These findings indicate that the influence of social relationships on the risk of death are comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity…Physicians, health professionals, educators, and the media should now acknowledge that social relationships influence the health outcomes of adults and should take social relationships as seriously as other risk factors that affect mortality, the researchers conclude.
Concisely stated, the link between loneliness and a premature death was as great as that of obesity while the effect on health was the equivalent of being an alcoholic or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. At the opposite end of the spectrum, research indicates that positive relationships have been shown to reduce stress, improve life satisfaction, and are important for good health. Just being aware of the way relationships affect you and other people around you is a first step toward improvement.
To improve your wellbeing and your relationships, whether at home, at work or at play, here are 3 easy, essential, yet sometimes overlooked tools:
- At the top of the list is forgiveness. No one is perfect. Whether you’re building a relationship with a spouse, a relative, a child, a parent, a co-worker, or a friend, it’s important to let go of the expectation of perfection. Everyone is a unique individual and each deserves to be loved for who they are (not who someone else expects them to become).
- Practice the good old “golden rule” and be, to others, the type of friend that you would like to have. Because Chris Peterson was right and other people really do matter, listen the way you want to be listened to, serve the way you want to be served, respect the way you want to be respected, and love the way you want to be loved. Invest yourself fully into your relationships and you’ll enjoy an exponential return on your investment.3. Be patient with your relationships and with yourself. These may be the days of disposable plates, disposable silverware, and disposable diapers, yet that doesn’t mean we should dispose of a relationship just because it’s not perfect from the start. Solid relationships take time and effort. They also take intentional study and practice. Stick with it, do the work (and the play) and give your relationships time to improve, to grow, and to flourish.Remember, when it comes to relationships, OTHER PEOPLE MATTER and so do YOU! Invest yourself in the process and soon you’ll reap the rewards of improved health, wellness, happiness and many life sustaining, energy enhancing, and mutually rewarding relationships.