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Steps to Greater Happiness Step 6 - Connection

No one is an island, connection is fundamental to our wellbeing.

Without vital connection we can become increasingly lonely which can trigger mental health issues. I know that for many of us during lockdown it was this loss of connection that had the greatest impact both psychologically and emotionally.

As greater restrictions are once again being put in place it becomes so important to make sure that positive connections are still an integral part of our lives.

1. Plan opportunities to connect Take the time to plan in opportunities to connect every week as having things to look forward to can have such a positive impact on how we feel. Focus on how you can still connect rather than what you can no longer do.

2. Choose your connections Thinking back to the lockdown earlier in the year, reflect on how you connected and who you connected with. Which connections lifted your spirits and would be valuable as we head into more restrictive times?

2. Make it meaningful Be sincere in your connections and communication without feeling the need to project an image to others. In the words of Gandhi "True happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are the same thing."

3. Nurture your connections Professor Emeritus John Gottman found that for a relationship to flourish it requires a ratio of 5 :1, five positive connections for every one negative experience. This really shows how negativity has the potential to harm relationships. So how can we communicate more effectively? There are four communication styles identified by Professor Shelly Gable. The example below is about how someone could react on hearing that a friend or loved one has got a new job.

Active and Constructive - "That's great, I'm so pleased for you, tell me more about it."

Passive and constructive - "That's good to hear."

Active and destructive - " That sounds like a lot to take on, it seems very stressful."

Passive destructive - "I watched a great film last night"

I'm sure we all appreciate that the "active, constructive" response is the only one that will truly support our connection and relationships.

There are times when we can all drift into negative ways of communicating, especially when we are stressed. The first step towards improving how we communicate is to notice what our responses are at the moment. The next step is wanting to improve. Finally looking for opportunities to be a more positive and supportive communicator.

I hope you are able to build and maintain good connections as you move forward. If you would like more support with connection or any other areas of wellbeing please get in touch.

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