“Happiness is love. Full stop.” – George Vaillant [i]
As part of living the Brighton Jones way of helping people live richer lives, we are highlighting one happiness skill each month throughout 2017 and sharing simple practices you can do daily in order to turn these happiness skills into habits.
We are motivated by research that suggests happiness is a skill and that it is quite contagious, so please join us! [ii]
The science of happiness is clear: strong relationships do not guarantee happiness, but happiness is unlikely to occur without them. That is because our brains are wired to be social, and come equipped with special networks that give us insight into what others are thinking and feeling. Given this, it should come as no surprise that the research on happiness suggests that good social relations are necessary for people to feel happy and that the feeling of connection is critical to our wellbeing. A more surprising finding, however, is that providing social support to others can be just as beneficial to our happiness as receiving it is.
February’s Practice – Supportive Listening
The goal in supportive listening is to provide the speaker with your undivided attention. Listening attentively to others is an effective way to deepen relationships and cultivate our own positive emotions. Each day this month, invite a colleague, friend, or family member to tell you about something positive that happened to them recently. Then, simply listen. If you speak, do so only to assure the other person that they are being heard. It will be tempting to ask questions, to try to connect, or just fill any silence. Instead, focus on making eye contact and showing positive emotions through a smile.
We think supportive listening and January’s practice of mindfulness are foundational skills for improving our relationships. Pay attention as you practice these skills and we think you’ll notice the quality of your conversations – and subsequently relationships –deepen over time.
This blog post is part of our Year of Happiness & Compassion series. The initial post in this series can be found here.
We invite you to visit this blog each month and be part of our journey as we learn a new happiness skill. Also, if you’d like us to send you reminders and help keep you on track, please just let us know.
[ii] “Well-being is a skill that can be cultivated. There are very simple ways of cultivating a positive outlook. When you do those simple kinds of practices, we’ve shown that both behavior and the brain changes. It doesn’t take much.” – Richard Davidson, renowned neuroscientist.