25 Ways To Be Happier (And Why Your Relationship Depends On It)
I recently stumbled upon a quote by author Tom Robbins that perfectly describes why love often fails:
“When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for someone else to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with someone more promising.
This can go on and on— series polygamy — until we admit that while a partner can add wonderful dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.”
In our work, my business partner, Aimee and I coach women and men towards more fulfilling love lives. We stress the importance of building a healthy and vibrant life now — regardless of your relationship status. The upside is tremendous:
1. Increased energy and vitality.
2. Greater self-esteem derived from within, rather than from external validation.
3. A greater propensity to attract like-minded, well-adjusted friends and lovers.
4. An increased likelihood of a successful, long-term romantic relationship. By filling your well from a variety of sources, you’re much less prone to be needy, critical or demanding of your partner.
A happy life is built deliberately and with care. Below, we offer suggestions on how to nurture yourself in all areas. Pick and choose as you please, try to balance your efforts between the areas.
People who regularly exercise have increased brain function and lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety. Further, a healthy diet and adequate sleep work perfectly together, increasing the body’s ability to heal itself. Try these ways to nurture your body in a new way.
1. Take a 20-minute walk outside.
2. Throw a punch. Dance merengue. Stand on your head. Join a class to meet a community of like-minded people.
3. Give yourself an uninterrupted hour to savor a healthy lunch.
4. Fill up on the cheapest (and healthiest) drink available — water. Add lemon to flush toxins and balance the pH levels in your body.
5. Create a bedtime ritual. Turn off electronics. Enjoy a warm bath, a good book, and a cup of herbal tea to wind down. Indulge in high-quality sheets and pillows.
We are born to love and feel. Express compassion, kindness, and empathy. Do so generously and with little expectation of reciprocation. Connect to your higher power, whatever that is. Be alert for the magic and mystery in every day.
6. Listen to a favorite album. Close your eyes. Breathe in an artist’s capacity to move you on a visceral level.
7. Hug someone you love with both arms.
8. Find a community (whether it be a church, synagogue, mosque or non-denominational support group) that celebrates the joy of life and uplifts during your darkest hour. Fellowship is powerful.
9. Develop a meditation or prayer practice. Even if you struggle, keep practicing. Five minutes is enough to reap the benefits.
10. Journal. Count your blessings over and over and over — and watch them multiply.
I am inspired by Michaelangelo who (at age 87) said, “I’m still learning.” Your brain is a muscle, so engage it regularly.
11. Start a book club. Invite 3-4 friends to read, too. Invite them over for take-out food and lively discussion.
12. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill. Screenplay writing. Indian cooking. Watercolor painting. Woodwork. Tai chi. Consistency and desire are powerful forces for growth.
13. Push your boundaries. Visit the Taj Mahal. Eat Peruvian food. Buy kohlrabi and tackle a new recipe.
14. Enroll in school. A friend of mine is studying Astrobiology through Harvard University’s online courses. The digital world offers free ways to study with the world’s greatest intellectuals.
15. Go to a museum and tour with a docent. You’ll learn the story behind the art and the artist, which helps you appreciate it in a whole new way.
The happiest people find love, humor, companionship, empathy and wisdom from a variety of people.
16. Call an old friend — one who lives out of town — to catch up.
17. Send a card to thank someone who made a difference in your life.
18. Reach out to a mentor to ask for advice/insight. Everyone loves to feel that their contributions are valued.
19. Meet friends weekly for coffee, after-work cocktails, a walk in the park, or dinner. Facebook is great, but real relationships need to be nurtured in the flesh.
20. Call your mother (or father/brother/sister). In the words of John F. Kennedy, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
Each of you has a special talent that makes the world brighter.
21. Do something creative every day. Write a poem. Tend a garden. Cook a meal.
22. Work to pursue a noble calling regardless of the fact that it may take years to achieve. Write a book. Start a not-for-profit. Fundraise for your favorite charity.
23. Resolve to change one person’s life in a substantial way. Buy a meal for a hungry man. Visit a homebound elderly person. Teach someone to read.
24. Even if your job seems “unfulfilling,” do it to the best of your ability. Smile at your customers. Be helpful to colleagues. Even on your worst day, give your best.
25. Call a friend who is hurting. You may be the ear, word of encouragement or display of love that keeps them going another day.
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Monica Parikh is a lawyer, writer and dating coach. Deeply interested in love and relationships, she recently started School of Love NYC to help men and women develop happier and healthier relationships. Check out her website.
Aimee Hartstein, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist with 20 years of experience. She specializes in relationship and couples counseling.