Relationships, according to the research are not just important to our happiness, they are essential. Studies have shown that having close friends and loving relationships are the strongest predictors of personal happiness.
Related research found that while having close friends was the key to happiness, those who valued money, success and status where more than twice as likely to be unhappy. It seems that we all need other people in order to create a state of wellbeing and happiness for ourselves.
One important feature to deriving the “happiness benefit” from relationship is the intention to bring happiness to the relationship rather than trying to take it from the relationship.
Happiness and the Social Connection
Why are close, loving relationships so important to our happiness and wellbeing?
It turns out that we are hardwired to relate to one another. Neuroscience tells us that everyone we interact with, at any level, causes a chemical reaction, the firing of mirror neurons that stimulates a “neural bridge” that connects us.
As children these mirror neurons, as the theory goes, are responsible for the way they learn new behaviors. It’s this model of behavior that provides the material-objective explanation for something as subjective as feeling of empathy. This is why when we walk into a room where there has been an argument we feel the tension that’s “so thick we could cut it with a knife.”
This is the reason that all our emotions are contagious, both the positive and the negative, which according to Daniel Goldman, internationally known psychologist, spread from one person to another in the same fashion as the common cold.
If we’re going to catch something…let’s catch a positive something.
So What Makes for a Happy Relationship?
It would seem from the research that having a relationship, in and of itself, is a cause for a happy relationship. In one study it was discovered that even people who described their relationships as “unhappy” appeared to benefit, the speculation being, that they may benefit from stability, commitment and the social status of the relationship.
A Cornell University study found that married partners have the highest sense of wellbeing, followed by cohabitating partners then those in steady relationship and finally those with the lowest sense of wellbeing were the unattached.
The Happy Relationship Beyond the Relationship
Ultimately what makes for a happy relationship, with yourself or others, is knowing that you are the cause of your own happiness; that your happiness is not the by-product of material wealth, good health or even good relationships. Your happiness comes from within and no place else, no matter how much your brain/ego tries to convince you otherwise.
The next logical question then is, “how do you cause your own happiness?”
The short answer is to be authentic…to be self-actualized and to heed Joseph Campbell’s brilliant prescription and “follow your bliss.”
The deeper, unique and evolving answer is the inspiration for creating “Laughter Happiness and Bliss”