In my multi-part blog post series on greater happiness, I shared 3 ways to achieve it:

 

  • Personal development.
  • Building relationships.
  • Serving others.

 

Since these are pretty large areas of focus and can be obtained by many means, I also shared my suggestions of how to actually get there:

 

  1. Heal your wounds.
  2. Fill your well.
  3. Find your purpose.
  4. Connect and make friends.
  5. Share joys and sorrows.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Share your gifts.
  8. Volunteer some of your time.
  9. Help those in need.

 

In my last post, I talked about the first 3 – healing your wounds, filling your well, and finding your purpose – all necessary and useful for personal development.  

 

Today, I’m covering strategies to accomplish the next 3 suggestions, which all relate to building relationships:

 

  • Connect and make friends.
  • Share joys and sorrows.
  • Have fun.

 

The first suggestion is pretty obvious.

 

If you want to build relationships, you need to connect with people and make friends.

But, the act of doing this may not be as easy as it seems.

Making friends doesn’t magically happen for adults as easily as it does for kids connecting over their shared love of mint chocolate chip ice cream and Pokemon.

This isn’t to say kids’ friendships are any less meaningful because they may be built on something we consider frivolous.

Kids, in fact, are really great at making friends and building relationships. They are less encumbered and they do some things we should all do on a regular basis:

 

  • Introduce yourself – kids walk up to total strangers (usually other kids) and start talking to them without an invitation. This is easier to do at a networking event or party where people are there to socialize, but you could do this at the grocery store or anywhere you run into someone you find interesting.

 

  • Ask questions – kids aren’t afraid to ask basic or intimate questions. Most people love to talk about themselves or have someone interested in them. Ask people about themselves and feel out when to stick to the basics or go a little deeper.

 

  • Share what you like – kids have no problem and no shame in telling their new friend they like Spongebob Squarepants, and popsicles, and riding their bike. Let your new friend know what you’re into and what drives you.

 

  • Invite them to do something – kids, without provocation, will invite their new friend over, or to their next birthday party, or to come live with them. Permission aside, it’s a great practice. Get into the habit of inviting your new friend to do something. Continued time with each other will allow you to bond and build your relationship.

 

You’ll know, somewhere in the process, when a new person is one to grow with or say goodbye to as you apply these behaviors.

Hopefully, your new friend reciprocates these gestures, although sometimes, because you’re more conscious/active/woke 😉 you may be pulling more weight, in some relationships, some of the time.

Decide what works for you in the effort-to-results department. If you’ve done the work from my last post, you shouldn’t take their lack of effort personally.

 

Next, it’s time to get a little deeper with the friends you choose to invest in.

Sharing your joys and sorrows means you’re ready to get more vulnerable with someone. You’re letting them see beneath the exterior you project to the world.

You may think it’s easier to share in joy with someone than sorrow, but then you’ve never met a surly and sarcastic New Englander with a chip on his shoulder. (I’ve met many a person like this and, interestingly, they tend to have an easier time sharing in sorrow, grief, and pain).

However you tick, make sure you stretch yourself and share both the good stuff and bad with your friends.

Don’t let them only see one side of you. You’re a complex individual. Letting people see that and experience the full expression of you will create the emotional bonding that deepens your relationship.

 

Now it’s time to have fun!

Seriously. Too many relationships are mired in codependency, unmet expectations, and heartache (most likely because personal development work has been ignored by either or both people).

Once you’ve found a new friend you really connect with, remember to have fun together. The more fun you have, the more you’ll want to spend time with each other, thereby deepening your bond over time.

It’s obviously not always going to be fun. You’ll be there for each other during deaths in the family, job loss, divorce, all the shit. You’ll shed plenty of tears together.

 

But, that’s all stuff that happens to you.

The stuff you make happen should be a blast. Life’s too short not to spend time with people you like and admire, doing fun stuff that sets memories and good feelings into motion in your life and through your neural pathways.

Yeah, I said it.

When you repetitively have good times with the associated good feelings, you deepen pathways in your brain so those memories, thoughts, and emotions become more accessible.

They’re more available in good times and in bad. It’s called, “hardwiring happiness” into your brain.

 

Sounds like a good reason to have fun, right?

Building relationships can’t be left to chance. It’s not something that will just happen because you’re surrounded by people all the time. Some of the loneliest people live in the largest cities, never more than a few feet from someone else.

The act of building relationships comes through specific behaviors that must be adopted and practiced if you’re going to have strong human relationships.

We need love, and camaraderie, and side-splitting laughter in our lives. We need a community of supportive people we can trust. We need a tribe of close friends who let us be ourselves, see the beauty in us, and challenge us to grow and continue becoming the best version of ourselves.

When you have that, you’ll find a greater, deeper, and more meaningful happiness because we’re not meant to go it alone. We’re social creatures and we need each other.

So, get out there and get social!

 

Please share your comments, questions, and ideas for building meaningful relationships below!

 

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