This Valentine’s Day, enhance your connection with your
loved ones by sharing more genuinely with each other. Take a risk by asking deeper
questions and reciprocate by sharing about yourself —your truth, your values or
Emotional intimacy emerges from authenticity. We often long for connection but are hesitant to reveal ourselves. It can be scary to open up, but it’s this vulnerability that makes for rich and meaningful relationships. Strengthen your bond with your partner, your children and your friends by moving beyond the superficial banter and enriching your conversation with meaningful questions.
How do you feel about starting a conversation with a stranger? Do you relish the chance to learn about someone new, or do you feel awkward, unsure what to say? If you dread networking or chatting at parties, consider building a conversation tool kit to help you feel more at ease and keep the conversation interesting and enjoyable for you both.
Healthy relationships require functional feedback systems. Unfortunately, most people get skittish about feedback because it’s often served up critically. Challenging feedback is essential for sustainable connection, but it need not be painful to give or receive.
Trust is the foundation of connection. Developing trust involves discernment. You learn how to tell who is trustworthy and who isn’t by being optimistic, risking vulnerability and experiencing how your friends respond. That first step towards trusting a new friend is a leap of faith. But the risk is worth the reward. When you find a safe relationship, you can share your deepest hopes and fears.
Brene Brown explores the Anatomy of Trust in this illuminating video (click here). Building on her powerful TED talks about vulnerability and shame, Brown explains the components of trust, highlighting behaviors to look for in others and to cultivate in yourself.
When imagining aging, most middle-aged people look ahead with trepidation. But take heart: the best is likely yet to come!
Satisfaction surveys have found that happiness increases after middle age, and this pattern shows up around the globe. Referred to as the Happiness U-Curve, the data show that on average, life satisfaction drops during midlife and begins its recovery around age 50, reaching its peak at the end of life.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, let’s focus on the most important ingredient of a healthy relationship: constructive conflict.
The term conflict usually brings to mind destructive conflict, such as yelling, bullying and physical aggression. But it’s also destructive to hold conflict in and be torn-up inside by anguish that isn’t being expressed. This is true for romances, friendships, parenting and work relationships.
It is impossible to be in relationship without hurting each other from time to time. When we cause harm, repairing the connection requires a heartfelt apology. The Spanish phrase, “lo siento,” can be translated “I’m sorry” or “I feel it.” Genuine apology is difficult, because usually we don’t want to feel it.
The quality of your relationships is largely determined by how well you listen. Pay attention to how you pay attention to those around you. When you listen to someone speaking, are you engrossed or distracted? Are you tracking what’s being said, or busy with your own thoughts, formulating your response?
Humans are pack animals. We are biologically designed to connect with each other and generally have longer and healthier lives when we are social. The benefits of relationships are further enhanced when we internalize the love that surrounds us. Keep the kindness you receive alive within you by savoring these experiences.