Three Keys to a Connected Family
By Dwight Bain
Nationally Certified Counselor
Relationships. We all are impacted by them, but have you thought about how much of our happiness actually comes from being in a healthy relationship? MTV did, and conducted a massive study to see what made their viewers (ages 14-34) the happiest... and the answer may surprise you. The no. 1 answer by a huge margin was that these young people longed for a connected relationship with their family.
To be happy at home isn't limited to the younger audience either. USA Today surveyed an older audience and discovered the same pattern. The majority of people in the United States define happiness more from the health of their relationships than by their income, house, car, or job success combined!
God designed us to experience connected relationships and so when we are blessed enough to be in one life is great. However, when we are in a struggling relationship it saps the joy and sucks the energy out of life. If you are having the time of your life with the people in your home, rejoice and make some great memories! And if you aren't, then here are some tips to help you find the love and laughter again.
Blended Personalities Bring Value or War
I saw a desk sign once that read, “Everyone here brings happiness -- some by leaving and some by staying -- which are you?”
Why does it seem so hard to find healthy relationships? Simple, everyone is different, and those differences either make for a wonderful “blending” of people and personalities or it creates the ingredients of a major war!
1) Start with you
Are you taking responsibility to deal with the major issues in your life? For instance, if you know you have a short temper, take ownership of your anger before you begin to look for another group of friends or family that will just “put up” with your behavior. Scripture teaches us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “be slow to anger”, so start with looking into the mirror of your souls to see what needs attention. Once you see what needs work, get busy working on it. If you get stuck, find a coach to help hold you accountable to grow.
2) Do a relationship evaluation
After you have taken bold steps to face your fears and doubts, you should actually sit down and evaluate your current relationships. Confidentially list out the key people in your life on a legal pad by name. Start with those closest to you, perhaps parent, child or family relationship, dating or marriage partner boss or co-workers, as well as your spiritual relationship with God.
Pay attention to the strengths of the relationship as well as what needs improvement. As you map out these relationships, it will be easy to create a specific action plan. Once you have a plan in hand, you can make better decisions about which relationships are working well, and meeting needs in your life, as well as which ones may be a “bottomless pit” of irresponsible behavior and may never grow into a healthy relationship. (There are times that this evaluation process will reveal tremendous problems that require some intensive help from a counselor or clergy member to deal with to make life work better).
3) Prioritize key relationships
Once you have a master list of relationships, you can then quickly see which ones create a source of support and emotional strength so you can regularly nurture them. Too often we take our daily relationships for granted, and spend too much time reaching out to others. It’s better to spend our emotional energy on staying close to the people that God has placed around us than to abandon those people and try to live life alone.
It will not be easy to get along with some people in your life, but by taking time to build stronger relationship connections you build greater happiness and fulfillment. Relationships can add value to you today, and for decades to come. Sounds like a great trade for a lifetime of happiness.
*Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2009), To receive this valuable weekly resource, subscribe at www.lifeworksgroup.org.
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Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984, focusing on solving crisis events and managing major change.
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