Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy people connect

Sonja Lyubomirsky is a psychology professor at the University of California, as well as a research psychologist. In her studies, she has discovered 12 things that happy people have in common.

I am happy. Even when I'm feeling crappy, I am a happy person. People are forever asking me how I reached this place. It wasn't because I prayed enough, or took a magic pill, or held my mouth just right while dancing on one foot, or was just born happy (um ... NO ... you can ask my mom about that first year). Yet, I have discovered that self disciplines, even the ones which result in fun, have radically changed my life. These are things I learned through my own therapy and medicinal treatment for depression and anxiety. If you realize the concepts in this series are simply not enough, seek help. Insist on it. Find your own personal level of healing, which is different for everyone. Sometimes I speak "happy" with an accent, because I still dance with depression and anxiety - and that is okay.

I thought I'd focus my Mondays on each of the 12 common factors. It makes sense, because Mondays can totally slurp on the happiness meter.


I don't think this is gonna' shock anyone. Since the times of ancient philosophers, it has been seen and agreed that deep, social connections make a happier person. It's not just kinda' important. It's a big, frickin' deal.

We need our people. If we don't have people, we need to find them. If we have found them, we need to nurture those relationships, even if it's hard.

It's vital, y'all.

I have learned a wonderfully painful lessen this year. The deepest connections are formed when you dare to be vulnerable. Oh my cow, that's scary. My husband is the very safest person for me on this planet, and yet being truly vulnerable with him is still very difficult. It has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with our tendency to feel and believe vulnerability makes us weak. We would rather not go there, than be rejected.

So, I have dared to be vulnerable. I have practiced it. CRAP, did I mention it is scary? Yeah, not just with your partner, but have you dared to try it with the other people in your life you love dearly. I mean, if you can't be vulnerable with them, who can you do this with?

Again, I know you're not shocked. By doing this, my relationships have deepened exponentially. However, what I just wrote is almost a joke compared to the radical level of intimacy I have reached with people in my inner circle. There is simply no way to describe it. I took a risk. They were safe. They took the risk right back. Holy tamale. It has blown my mind.

So, having a lot of connection is important. You need to have at least five people who are available to you for a myriad of life's questions. It is important to take care of those relationships. If some of them are getting dusty, maybe it's time to whip out the feather duster of vulnerability.

"I need you."

"I feel ..."

"I really wish ..."

"I love you."

"I need you to know ..."

"I am so afraid of ..."

"When we allow our self to share our deepest thoughts, our personal dreams, our unique historical experiences, our fears, our wisdom and our greatest attributes, we become a true gift to those who know us. When we are vulnerable, those around us can relax into being themselves, being who they are, feeling that it is okay to just be." - Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT


Mijk said...

Ok I need to print this one and practice it. And read it again when I get scared!

Annie said...

On my back-burner is a post about friends.... I've always had plenty - until now, when I need them more than ever, the source has dried up. That makes it all a lot harder. But, thank heaven for e-friends.

It is great to be vulnerable and be accepted. Yes! But, pretty darned dreadful to be vulnerable and be rejected. (Though, since that's exactly what my children went through, I figure it is not all bad to get a taste of it.)

Momto16 said...

Wow. This is good. Thank you

Lindsay Mama to Nine said...

yup, I still say asking for help, to be understood, for being vulnerable makes people beautiful, and human...I get it...

Tawanda Bee said...

oh yeah... you are right on! We call ourselves The Wise Women and life would not be the same if they were not in my life! Thanks for the reminder today.