When I wrote my dissertation for university I looked at how design can impact your happiness, and while I was researching I read a book called The Happiness Hypothesis. It examined ancient philosophical ideas and compared them to modern psychology. A good balance if you ask me and a very interesting read. And it’s probably the motivation for selecting last weeks #HealthyHabits2017 challenge: Spend time with loved ones.
One of the main things I took away from that book was that the thing that outweighs all other conditions in importance to our happiness - is our relationships with others. Good relationships with other people make us happy, and going full circle, those who are happier have more valuable relationships than unhappy people. So needless to say it’s important to focus the ones you care about.
If we have conflict in our relationships it is what’s going to do the most damage to you as it’s something we never get used to. Humans are a social species, and relationships are important to our survival. Even introverts feel the positive impact from spending time with others despite needing to recharge in their alone time.
’Seneca was right: “No one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility.” John Donne was right: No man, woman, or child is an island. Aristophanes was right: We need others to complete us. We are an ultrasocial species, full of emotions finely tuned for loving, befriending, helping, sharing, and otherwise intertwining our lives with others. Attachments and relationships can bring us pain: As a character in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit said, “Hell is other people.” But so is heaven.’
HOW DID IT GO?
After writing my dissertation on the topic, and especially since I started working from home I’d say relationships are one of the things I try to cultivate, despite being a massive introvert. But like anyone else it’s easy to get busy, to let seeing someone fall behind and somehow it’s been a year and a half that’s gone by before you speak to them again.
Recently I’ve been letting work get on top of things and most weekends I’ve been working at least one day, so I vowed to not have to spend time doing anything work related to spend time with people who matter to me which was a better decision if you ask me. It’s mean I’m better equipped to take things on this week because of the mental break and enjoyment I got from being with these people.
This last week I have spoken to over chat, a very close friend of mine and listened to him discuss a difficult decision he has to make. I’ve also Facetimed a couple of friends in a different countries who needed a chat. I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in an age. I’ve spent time with family members, my partner and close close old friends and new friends with who I just click.
It was lovely and enjoyable to see each one of these people. The natural feeling that comes from being around them is comforting and it feels good to have the like minded connections. It also felt good being there for someone when they needed this week. I read a really lovely suggestion of writing gratitude letters for people, so I might start doing that when the feeling takes me.
I’ve also written down a list of names of people I will be reaching out to spend time with in the foreseeable future, as it’s something that is important to keep doing so ‘life > work’ rather than ‘work = life’. What a fun challenge and it’s great it’s important to your happiness and in turn your health. This week we’re eating breakfast because who doesn’t love food! Join in!