Happiness Club month 2 - Relating
Last week our Happiness Club met for the second time and we discussed to great lengths Relating and everything that goes with it. We're excited and ready to commit to month 2 of the Happiness Club.
A Giving recap
I’d really enjoyed my month of Giving and have posted a separate video blog about it. I was keen to hear how the others in the Club had found the experience and to know what their highlights were and so we started month 2 with a review of Giving.
As a group we’d done all sorts of things from giving more time to our children, to giving more smiles, more to charity, more to our communities and to actually just allow ourselves to feel happy and proud about giving. We even noticed what others did for us as a result of focusing on giving. We all had a happier month and I expect that we will continue with some of that giving into month 2 because it has been so enjoyable and also because some aspects of giving have become quite a habit.
Month 2 – Relating
To review ‘Relating’ I read the article in Psychologies magazine paragraph by paragraph and we all discussed what we thought about it.
We talked about the health benefits of connecting with others. I wondered if these benefits were the same for introverts and extroverts. I sway on this spectrum depending upon the environment or the company (!) and can find some social situations quite draining and others more energising. I expect that someone who is more introverted might not necessarily gain from connecting with others as much in terms of health. However, we then talked about perhaps the health benefits are focussed on becoming older and more isolated and how, regardless of introvert or extrovert, people contact is really important to remain stimulated and we could see the health benefits this could provide.
Quality of Relationships
We all agreed that speaking, rather than emailing or using social media, to communicate is a definite way to improve the quality of relationships. It’s so easy to become reliant on social media but nothing can really replace a conversation in person or over the phone. So much more can be said and it’s far more enjoyable to share a laugh or recount a story. Having said that I am still a big fan of social media as it has allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends who don’t live nearby.
Some relationships have also become more practical, whether with parents or partners, as we try to juggle the busy-ness of working, raising a family and having a social life etc. We would like to make sure we take the time to talk to those we share these daily responsibilities with and to invest in that relationship too.
b)TV off (or on!)
Most days we all enjoy (and look forward to) sitting down in front of the TV to relax. To really engage in conversation we thought it would be good to turn the TV off and see where the conversation flows.
Conversely, some of us sit in the same room as our partners but on different devices either working or for enjoyment. For those, putting the TV on and sharing watching something together and chatting about it, actually made them feel closer.
We spent a lot of time talking about the ways we have fun with our families. It was lovely to hear the stories of dancing around the kitchen, tickling the children or telling jokes with them. My instinct was that I didn’t feel I had fun enough, although I am a happy person, but I associate ‘fun’ with letting your hair down and going with the flow. It made me realise this is something I can work on. One thing I’d like to do is make an effort to notice all the fun I do have though and I have a feeling I might be surprised how much fun is already in my life!
We all loved the way to manage connecting with others when you’re feeling shy (priming) i.e. noticing something positive about the other person to enable us to switch our attention to them from our own worries or anxieties.
Some of us are going to try this in future and one person said she does this completely naturally and how it definitely makes her feel more confident when connecting with others.
The Happiness Club is made up of women who all work and have families to raise. As a result we don’t feel we have the time (or money) available for us to join a walking group or book an activity holiday etc. What we thought we could do is say ‘Yes’ more when people invite us to something instead. It’s so easy to say no when you need to find a babysitter and actually you’re normally pretty tired by the end of the day. We could say ‘Yes’ instead and put in the extra effort to socialise and meet up with old friends or even meet new ones.
A couple of club members already volunteer doing various things. One talked about how this does make her feel happy as she feels she’s doing the right thing and making a difference. The other club member feels that she would prefer to offer the time she has to volunteer in a different way than that which she’s already doing. As a result of the talk tonight she’s going to look into other ways to volunteer which will be more satisfying and enjoyable.
Someone also suggested that we look at the website streetlife.com as this often has local groups wanting people to help out. We all said we’d have a look and see if there’s any ways to get involved!
Feeling deeply connected
Some of the examples people shared about the last time they felt deeply connected with someone were sad or traumatic stories, where they’d really empathised with someone and felt their sadness. We said it was a ‘feeling’ rather than something that was said.
I feel deeply connected when I’m with my family. We do lots of lovely things together and sometimes just noticing the small things (e.g. chatting over breakfast, which we do every single day!) is heart-warming.
Not feeling connected
We did share examples of not feeling connected but we couldn’t really pinpoint why that was. I think in my experience it was because the other person wasn’t honest, I didn’t feel like they were being themselves in front of me, and so I didn’t feel a connection with them.
Someone else’s example was that they’d felt let down by someone. The friend wasn’t there for them when really they should have been and it had built a void in their relationship which was difficult to mend.
Another person described how they always had to make the effort with someone with very little in return. They had decided to not invest their energies in this way anymore. I think sometimes it’s good to let go, even though that might be hard at first.
Challenges in connecting
So much interaction with people revolves around a night out and alcohol but actually some of my favourite times with friends has been on a day trip, or just catching up over a cuppa and a slice of cake! I like my sleep and early mornings and sometimes the thought of a late, boozy night is enough to put me off saying yes. As a result I’ve started to stay in more and miss out on some social nights. It would be good to have some alternatives for catching up with friends (with the odd night out thrown in of course!).A club member suggested taking control more, that actually inviting friends for a pizza night is really good fun! You can relax, be comfortable and have a good catch up. I like the sound of that!
Relating over the next month
Some of the ways we thought we might try to connect with others over the next month are:
Phone friends and family once a week
Make an effort with small talk
Start a conversation with a stranger – more than just ‘hello’
Attend local events
Look at volunteering opportunities
Have fun with the children more (put the ‘List’ to one side!)
Invite friends for a pizza night
Turn the TV off (or on!)
Turn mobile phones off