How to Be Happier, Step 2: Relating
On January 2, I posted a list from the blog of psychologist Jeremy Dean of ten habits that science has shown make people happier. For the next ten days I’m posting individually on one of these actions/states of mind in hopes that we can all learn to make them habits.
Today’s topic is relating: connecting with other people.
I have to start off by admitting that this is something that doesn’t always come easily to me.
I am a shy introvert. I’ve never been very comfortable in social situations. For most of my life I’ve had very little self-confidence or self-esteem. And it’s hard for me to open up with people and to let them get to know me.
I don’t have a large social circle. I don’t like hanging around in groups. I’m not a party person. I’ve never had a lot of friends.
What I do have is a small circle of really good friends, most of whom go back to my college or early work days. And these are people I treasure.
I treasure them because they have stayed with me all these years. Somehow they saw something to like in me when I didn’t like myself so much. They were patient enough to want to get to know me and to let me take my time in revealing myself to them.
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to be more relaxed and open with people. Having the support and love of my husband has helped me be more confident in myself. I’m no longer afraid to talk to people. I’ve learned to accept myself as I am (see step #9) and to accept that, although I don’t need a lot of socializing to be happy, I do need and want to be social.
I also accept that I still have trouble forming new friendships, but I do have a pretty good group of acquaintances, through church, the neighborhood, and other avenues, and meeting and talking to them on various occasions fills a need for me. Maybe some of them will develop over time into something more. If not, I enjoy them as they are.
I do try to nurture the relationships I do have. My friends and I make a point of meeting regularly for lunch or dinner. We realize that good friends, people who’ve been with us through good and bad times, are irreplaceable. Finding people you really connect with is a rare blessing.
Many people come and go in our lives, and they all bring us something. The ones who stay, the good friends, bring us joy and enrich our lives. We need to nourish them.