Cultivating happiness in your relationship is a powerful practice because it nourishes and supports the overall happiness in your life. That seems like common sense, right? But do we really try to cultivate happiness or do we just go along with the program allowing happiness to arise naturally or “accidently?”
Scientific studies in the field of happiness (positive psychology) have shown us time and again that one of the strongest predictors of happiness is having good social relationships. If fact neuroscientists have discovered that our brains are actually wired so that we are programed to relate to one another.
It should be no surprise to discover that our relationships have a biochemical effect; a mind body connection. When we cultivate happy and healthy relationships our brains flood our cells with happy chemicals; neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Of course, the opposite is true as well. Toxic relationship will increase the release of toxic chemicals into our bodies.
You can see why it’s important to nurture positive relationship, the question quickly becomes; “How do I do that?”
Here are some great ideas on how to increase happiness in your relationships (especially your personal ones) from Shanie Matthews, which are found on her “My Happy Path” Blog. Here’s Shanie to enlighten us…
After awhile, any marriage or relationship or will go through a rut. You’ll fall into a routine and stop really making an effort for each other. While this is perfectly normal, it should not be viewed as acceptable. Get your relationship in gear by making time for each other and going on real again. It’s time to drop what you’re doing and take your partner out. Surprise them with a date out on the town or even snuggle up for a quiet evening in with some wine. Put away the Saturday errand routine and really spend some quality time together where you can both relax, truly appreciate each other’s company and have a real conversation. Also, try your best to avoid talking about work or the kids. Reconnect like you used to. You’ll find that this alone can add a whole new level of pep to your relationship.
Spice things up…
You can also work on your relationship satisfaction by spicing up your sex life. Much like the daily grind, relationships tend to fall into sexual routines. It’s easy to fall into a the same old thing because you learn what the other likes and what works and then stick to it. Kick this habit by introducing some things news into your bedroom. Try incorporating role playing, lingerie, or even get some new sex toys at Adam & Eve. Want something even easier? Try just being a little more spontaneous. Try having sex in the morning or afternoon instead at night or move your love making from the bed to the floor or shower. Change it up and you’ll suddenly feel revitalized, closer to your partner and more turned on by them.
Start appreciating your partner again. It’s easy to start taking your partner for granted. After awhile we just expect them to do things like take out the trash, watch our favorite shows with us and be there when we call. We only notice that we’ve taken something for granted when we no longer have it and sometimes once it’s gone it’s too late to get back. You can avoid having that happen by being truly appreciative of your partner and having it show. Thank them for the small things they do every day. Tell them you like the way they did their hair today and then do things for them in return. Then introduce the little things back into your relationship, like the way you used to pick up their favorite ice cream for them out the blue or get their dry cleaning for them. Tiny gestures make a big statement because it constantly shows that you care and appreciate your partner. Continue reading here…
Marci Shimoff in her book “Happy for No Reason” also had three habits for cultivating a happier relationship:
- Tend to your relationships
- Surround yourself with support
- See the world as your family
All real happiness grows from within and the more you pay attention to that aspect of your happiness the less affect external factors will have on your overall well-being.
And likewise, the more time you spend with loved ones, whether they are family, friends, an intimate partner or even your pet, and the less time you spend with “energy vampires” the more you are cultivating happiness in your relationships and the higher your “set point” on the happiness scale will rise.