Monday, 28 May 2012

Greater Steps Towards Happiness: Step 4: Include Others in your Life

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”  Buddha

In the age where we often have a more intimate relationship with our Smartphone than our partner or family, the importance of including others in your life cannot be overestimated.  It is easy to take another person for granted or become blinkered in our busyness- “No man is an island” as John Donne famously said.

Ask yourself, in your happiest moments or times in your life, who helped to contribute to that experience?  Knowing ways of making yourself happy is essential though realising we are inter-dependent allows us to feel connected to something bigger and know we aren’t isolated.  Consider also who makes you feel good on a daily basis? It may be as simple as the office cleaner who smiles and talks to you every morning or your child giving you a cuddle and telling you they love you.  No matter how small, the ripples of yours and others actions will affect many others.

In your ideal life you need to include others and one of the simplest ways that you can make a difference to them is to listen to them.  Conscious listening takes effort and time- it requires us to switch off the noise in our own heads (and the iPod) and really tune into the other person.  Try this for starters: when people want to talk to you, be engaged and responsive- make eye contact and be open in your body language.  Show genuine interest in them and what they’re saying, being aware of the urge to butt in and give your own opinion; allow the opportunity to understand and accept what they’re saying, whether you agree completely or not.

Finally, when they have finished speaking, reflect back to them what they have just said as a summary using your own words to clarify your understanding. For example: “It sounds like you feel really excited about changing jobs and that it is giving you a thirst for a new challenge”.  Ensure you include their mood as well as the words.   By listening, you’re including others in your world and then they will include you.  You’ll be surprised at how much more you get out of a conversation than you would do and how the other person will appreciate being listened to.  Just notice how much more rewarding your relationships are when you start employing this skill! 

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