The Secret to a Happy Life?

“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, director of the longest and most comprehensive study on human happiness.

Period.  Hard stop.

Robert tells us: “It’s not the number of friends you have; it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters.”

This week we are going to be explore the power of relationships and how to create moments of connection.

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor shares the results of the “Very Happy People” study which examined the shared characteristics of the 10% happiest people.  

Turns out there was only one shared characteristic: the strength of their social relationships.

People with close relationships are better at dealing with stress. They are less likely to view stressful situations as stressful. And, when truly bad things do happen, instead of turning inward, they hold on tighter to their social support network.

Shawn tell us, not only are these people happier, they are also more productive, engaged, energetic, and resilient.

What does this mean for us as leaders?

It’s counter-intuitive.

The more we encourage our team members to socialize, the more motivated they feel and longer they can stay focused on task.

Then there’s this: the strength of the bond between manager and associate is the best predictor of the length of time people will stay at a company.  

When we think of the best leaders we have known, chances are they went out of their way to make us feel cared for.

Shawn shares some suggestions on what to do to strengthen the relationships in our life. It’s not rocket science:

Look people in the eye.

Be present. When someone enters, put your phone down and/or stop typing.

Be curious.  Ask questions.

Initiative conversations that aren’t always task oriented

Seek to learn one new thing each day about our colleagues

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Reflection:  What’s in the way of strengthening the important relationships in my life?

Action:  Prioritize people and relationships.  

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