While some of us are convinced we have the answer to our own happiness, it’s very often more complicated than that. When asked ‘what makes you happy?’, many people tend to answer something material, or even something that’s socially acceptable, like ‘my wife and kids.’
And while the first people are waaay of, the other category is up for a discussion.
It’s true that your family can make you happy, but it’s not only that.
According to Harvard’s Grant & Glueck Study, which tracked more than 700 participants over the course of 75 years, the key to long-term happiness and fulfillment comes down to a single factor: the quality of our relationships.
When you come to really think about it, it has to be true. Because we see so many rich and famous people that are depressed and miserable in other ways. But those that are surrounded by the right kind of people are the ones that are most stable and happy.
Don’t confuse the number of people around you with the quality of relationships. For a relationship to have a meaningful impact on your happiness it has to have real, emotional value to you.
‘’The benefits of having close, healthy relationships with members of one’s immediate family are self-evident. A safe, secure, and loving family results in happy, independent children and parents who derive the satisfaction of having completed a job well done. The payoff from social and professional relationships may be less obvious, but are no less important.’’ Said Joshua Becker, the founder of becomingminimalist.com
We all know the physical and emotional burden that comes with dealing with people that are not compatible to your view of life. And while it is good to occasionally challenge ourselves in some relationships to make progress in life, most of the relationships you choose should be there to make your life better and more secure.
Your general wellbeing and health often depend on the people around you. If everyone around you have an obesity problem, you’ll probably have a hard time staying healthy and slim without the support of your surroundings. If your friends and family are fit, they will give you all the necessary support in order to achieve your fitness goals.
In this environment, faced with the expectations of a tribe, you have a few options: (1) conform to the rules of the tribe, (2) resist, or (3) find a new one.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with conforming to a tribe’s social norms—as long as those norms align with your own desires. If you’re living out of alignment with your desired values, and those around you are exemplifying the lifestyle you want to live, then the quickest way to get what you want is to surrender to the group’s standards. But often the opposite is true—you want something different than what the group demands. In this scenario, surrendering to the group is sacrificing the life you desire.
Another option is to resist the group, but this path is perilous. It’s hard enough to change one’s own thoughts and behaviors. Why take on the nearly impossible task of trying to change someone else’s?
The third way is to practice relationship minimalism, which is not always the path of least resistance, but is certainly the path of greatest benefit. Most people enter into relationships too haphazardly, or maintain existing ones by default. They rely on proximity or convenience to guide relationship decision-making, or are gripped by the inertia of the status quo.
It's up to you to build and maintain the relationships around you. Now that you know the importance of them, invest your time and energy in the ones you feel are the right for you.