Happiness Club: Relating to YOU = Relating to others!
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Peace pilgrim
Month of Giving
Before we started our new topic, we explored how the previous month made us feel. At first we felt a little stressed to consciously be aware of ‘giving’ more to others. Ironically, slightly 'forcing' ourselves to look at how we give and what else we could do created a positive intention for the month. The topic of giving made us aware of the opportunities that came along to give that little bit more and reminded us of what we already do. So whether it was beginning to recycle, volunteering to help our friends with business projects, supporting our partners or buying a homeless man some food (although he did not appreciate this) we found the act of giving made us feel better about ourselves.
When we became aware of our actions and the positive affect they had on others we automatically felt better about ourselves. It also made us aware of how others give to us and how lovely it can feel to take without feeling guilty! ;)
Relating to others
When you are in a new country surrounded by a new culture relating becomes fundamental in creating a life that makes you happy in your new home. The main connection most of us have here is our other halves. Relating is something we assume we do with them all the time. But life takes over and if we look closely ‘relating’, ‘connecting’ with each other is put on the back burner. It requires us to be present, in the moment, listening and reaching out to each other in some way. Whether this be a conversation or going on an adventure together it creates a deeper connection then for instance going about our daily routines and chores.
Relating to others can be quite an anxious experience for many. Some of us do not find it easy to relate to others and it can take a little bit of time and effort. This is especially true for new friendships/relationships or those that have gotten a little stale.
For our second meeting we decided to meet in a ‘girly’ cafe (this was quite fitting seen as the group consists of females) where we could order cake instead of bake one (which we enjoyed doing last month).
Here is what we talked about when answering the questions.
1. Connecting, relating and experiencing together!
We have all been there when we have sighed with relief 'phew, they are like me' or become ecstatic to have found friends, colleagues or clients we just clicked with. Finding others with common interests makes us feel comfortable and at ease. The thought of standing there with nothing in common sends us in to an awkward frenzy. It is uncomfortable having to listen to each other if we have no interest in what we are sharing. Just the thought of this scenario makes me cringe a little remembering times I have experienced standing with others who seemed alien to me. Sounds harsh but you know you have been there too…or maybe you haven’t.
Having said that it is good to think about this in another way just so we can be sure we are not overlooking each other based on not having some common ground. Do we become a little self righteous and assume our way of being and our interests are 'better' than the others if we do not have common ground? Do we automatically look down on anyone else who does not fit in to our category of what is ‘cool’, ‘normal’, ‘the way people should be’? or Does the thought of not having much in common scare us more then the reality of the situation?
Whether in a professional or personal capacity feeling connected comes from being willing to share and experience together. In order to do this, we may be required to be a little bit more vulnerable and less judgemental.
We agreed that values were extremely important to us in forming connections. Sometimes we may not be sure what these values are often assuming our familiar group of friends are ‘our kind of people’. When we meet others with similar values it could actually be a good wake up call especially when we find ourselves hanging with the 'wrong' kind of people. The 'right' ones remind you of what you are about and who you want in your life. It is almost as if you have found a new family. Like a 'love at first sight' for friendships the joy of connecting with others at this level feels deep rooted. Even if someone seems completely opposite to you (in terms of personal interests) if you have similar values you click with them straight away. Having said that and from our discussion on this, it all depends on the individual and what they want from a friendship/relationship.
We all used our family as an example of recently feeling disconnected. This seemed quite normal considering we are away from them. However there were two sides to this conversation. One was the disconnection we felt not being able to experience life together because of the distance and the other was a reminder of the lack of emotional intimacy which disconnects us to a more loving relationship we need in our life from those closest to us. For some, this has just always been the case so we gave suggestions on how we could relate a little more to those we needed in our life.
The challenges were interesting to share in our meeting. We focused more on the difficulty in relating to new people. Usually an image of a shy and timid person springs to mind when I think of those finding it difficult to relate to others but even those of us who come across as outgoing and approachable can be hiding behind impulsive judgements and prejudices which hinder us from forming new bonds or developing the ones we already have. This is something we have all experienced and wanted to explore. If we think about these snapshots we take when meeting new people, these judgements/prejudices/first impressions can hinder anyone forming connections with others and possibly experiencing, evolving and forming a new perspective on the world. Yes, it gets that deep.
We all have these judgements and it usually is an automatic response we have grown accustomed to. We see someone, take a snapshot of who we think they are and label them. Some of us do this more than others. The way we dress, look and how we hold ourselves can have a powerful affect on others. Having said that, once someone communicates and you begin ‘relating’ you tend to know whether this is a friendship for you. I like to think our intuition is a good source to guide us at this point. It was agreed that some of us have had to consciously give people the benefit of the doubt and not judge them so quickly based on appearances.
Most of the time we have been pleasantly surprised. It is always good to consider that the way we perceive others and how we feel about ‘that type of person’ (i.e. the snapshot, judgement etc) may highlight something regarding ourselves.
Is there a need for us to work on the most important connection in our lives...the one with ourself before we can appreciate the connections we have with others?
For instance, if I do not understand my strengths, weaknesses, desires, experiences, moods, emotions and insecurities how on earth will I be able to display any sort of compassion, empathy or appreciation to my existing relationships? These are important qualities we need when relating to each other otherwise what connections are we actually creating and is this what we want? Obviously this all depends on what we want from our friendships/relationships.
We may need to think bigger and not be afraid to delve into unknown territory when meeting others. It doesn't mean these people will stay forever but they may show us something we have overlooked and surprise us.
4. Building deeper connections
When thinking about building deeper connections we all couldn't help but think about our other halves. They work long hours and after they have ‘me’ time life could go back to being ‘monotonous’ and the whole point in coming to the other side of the world was to experience something different, travel more etc. So we came up with a few suggestions to connect with them and our friends more.
5. Actions for Happiness
1. Stay open to doing things and not be afraid of spontaneous fun
2. Plan for quality time to connect with loved ones such as meeting our partners once a week for lunch.
3. Plan a holiday
4. Organise a fun day/evening out with the guys/girls: rock climbing/skating
One member summed the actions up nicely. Relating is sometimes about...
'pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and building memories!'