Most of us intuitively know that having close, supportive relationships is important to our general happiness and well-being, and decades of scientific research confirm that human connection not only affects our mental health but is also a key determinant to how long we’ll live and how physically healthy we’ll be during those years.
As Robert Waldinger PhD, the director of the long-running Harvard Study of Adult Development (aka “the longest study on happiness”), says in his TED Talk, “People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community are happier; they’re physically healthier; and they live longer than people who are less well connected.”
And we’re not just talking about your intimate, family and spousal relationships. All types of human connection — from the social to the professional, from the people you volunteer with to the man behind you in line at the grocery store — count.
The good news: Making small changes in our relationships can yield big results. Below, I’ve pinpointed six relationship resolutions to consider that could improve your bonds.
1. Change the words you’re thinking about other people
Words matter. Not only the words we use when we speak to others, but the words we say to ourselves about others.
Our internal narrative — especially the story we tell ourselves about other people, their decisions, behaviors, quirks and irritating habits — has a profound effect on how we interact with them. When you tell yourself “they’re so controlling” or “they never listen to me” or “they’re so self-centered” before or during a conversation with a partner, colleague or sibling sets you up to be more likely to find evidence of their controlling/non-listening/self-centered behavior because you’ve primed yourself to spot it.