We know what they say in the movies – all you need is love, and you’ll have a happy life. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship, however, knows that this isn’t quite accurate. Yes, a good relationship improves our life satisfaction and quality of life (and bad relationships significantly decrease these things!), but we need more than a happy relationship to achieve happiness and joy.
Research into life satisfaction, mental and physical health, and wellbeing in general tells us that taking a holistic approach to happiness is the best approach – that it is not just one thing (eg. Money! Health! Success!) that determines how happy we are in our life, but rather a number of areas that need to be balanced out. As we know, ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness – and although our partner can help with this (eg. by providing emotional support, or helping with practical tasks when you’re stressed), it is essentially up to us. Here are some tips for moving towards that elusive wellbeing – in terms of relationships and the rest of your life.
Honesty & Directness – A surprising fact that not many people are aware of is that, for those who struggle with assertiveness and directness, life satisfaction is significantly lower. When we’re not able to articulate our needs, or don’t feel like we are going to be heard, we can feel hopeless and exhausted – and like we have no control in our lives. Working towards developing assertiveness skills, and getting better at having difficult conversations, can make a huge difference in our relationships and wellbeing in general (fun fact: even physical health may improve, since some conditions which are stress related, such as IBS, can improve once we are able to speak up for our needs to be met). If you’re struggling to address these issues on your own, relationship coaching can be helpful as it focuses on finding solutions and strategies to overcome our internal barriers to good communication.
Seek Support – We all go through hard times – and research shows that social support – whatever that looks like – is a powerful moderator of stress. This might be a friendship group that you can share with, just one good friend, a therapist, relationship coach or family member. Even having one or two people outside of your relationship that you can share your thoughts with – and provide support in return – is a protective factor and can help us to vent and brainstorm issues. Our quality of life largely depends on the quality of our relationships, so the more supportive and positive relationships you have, the better.
Gratitude – Mindset is a buzzword recently, but there is a lot to be said for practicing gratitude – and the science tells us that this is the real deal. Shifting our mindset away from what is missing, and what we are not doing, towards what is going right, can lift our mood and improve our relationships. Practicing gratitude in our relationships is also hugely beneficial – showing appreciation and thanking our partner means that they are likely to reciprocate, as well as repeat the positive behavior.
Personal Space – They are right when they say ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder!’. As much as we might enjoy our partner’s company, taking some time to ourselves and our own hobbies can help us to engage with the individual part of ourselves – and allow us to be totally selfish with our decisions and behavior (even if this means eating Doritos for dinner and online shopping all day). Many couples find themselves feeling refreshed and invigorated after some time in their own company – and newly appreciative of their partner’s company.
If you’re interested in learning more about happiness and life satisfaction in relationships, Relish has a free 7-day trial where you can read more about balance in a relationship, as well as speak to a trained Relationship Coach who can offer support and advice. Remember – we aren’t going to be happy 100% of the time – life doesn’t work like that – but at the very least we can aim for generally good life satisfaction – which is based on the quality of our relationships with those around us, as well as our physical and mental health.