Loving Relationships: September’s Happiness Project Theme

When I looked back over my Happiness Project themes recently I felt there was something missing. And I realised that thing may be other people. This is a big year of change for me, so I’ve been focusing on themes and resolutions to make changes to personal habits and ways of doing things. But now it’s time to bring other people into the mix.

As Gretchen Rubin says in The Happiness Project “having strong social bonds in probably the most meaningful contributor to happiness.”

And, in her Happiness Project manifesto, Gretchen says…

Happiness is other people

As a major Introvert I can very easily neglect or just forget this statement. I’m more than happy to spend time on my own, and living with boyfriend often allows me to feel I’ve had enough social contact. I’m often not the best at keeping in contact with friends, or allowing myself to enjoy the company of others as much as I could. As an introvert I do find being in social situations draining, but it’s worth remembering introverts can and do get energy from other people too.

So to my resolutions for this month


Show more love than annoyance

Because we humans have a negativity bias, negative events or statements stick in our brains much more readily than positive ones. I can snap, and I can get annoyed at people for not doing things the way I might do them. If I show annoyance to boyfriend he tends to react by getting doubly annoyed at me. Generally the annoyance isn’t useful or necessary. This month I want to make an active effort to ditch it in favour of love.

Replace judgment with compassion

I judge books by their covers and people within minutes of laying eyes on them. But I also know that if people look at me/judge me on first meeting I probably come off very differently to how I really am. I want to show others the same compassion I hope others give me. In any situation each one of us has a myriad of things going on beneath the surface that effect how we behave, and that external observers know nothing about. In The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler compassion is the biggest reoccurring theme and approach the Dalai Lama presents for living a happier life.

Be a good friend/family member/partner

I can so easily get caught up in my work and projects that I sort of forget to keep up my side of relationships. I don’t neglect people, but I can go a long time without talking to friends and I can perhaps take boyfriend for granted because he’s around all the time. One simple action I’m going to take for this resolution is put together a birthday and addresses book. I love sending considerate, thoughtful gifts/cards for birthdays but have found myself often forgetting until the last moment in recent years as life takes over.

Share Positivity

I am terrible at sharing positive things that happen to me with anyone. Boyfriend, my mum, close friends – doesn’t matter. I feel all squirmy and weird inside if I’m talking about something I’m really pleased about/that went well, so I pretty much stopped doing it unless pressed. This is probably something to do with lacking the confidence to embrace, own and enjoy my own success twinned with the human fear of losing happiness by stating it. So this month I’m going to share one positive thing each day.

And that’s it, my collection of loving relationship resolutions. I hope these will help me be able to embrace the people I have in my life more readily, and to show my introvert self that sometimes it’s okay to hang out with others. I know I’m never going to be a person who wants to be with people all the time, and that’s fine. But perhaps I can find a bit of a better balance.

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