This episode is the third in a six-part series in which I take you through six different pathways to happiness, to human flourishing, and with each one I’ll provide you with tools that you can use. This is all based on the current research through a framework called PERMA-V. In today’s episode I’ll teach you all about the R – Relationship – and every other week, when I do a solo episode, I’ll be discussing another one of the 6 pathways. After you listen to each episode, I hope you’ll practice the tools I’m providing so you can apply this to your own life.
Here’s a bit of background to help put all of this in context. In the first episode in this series (Episode 30) I discussed a bit of the history of psychology in the twentieth century and the birth of the field of positive psychology, which stemmed from the recognition that we needed to focus on and learn more about wellness, and not just illness. A key idea in positive psychology is that the absence of illness is not wellness. Just because you don’t have diabetes or cancer doesn’t mean you’re healthy, and just because you haven’t been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you’re thriving and flourishing. Positive psychology started developing the understanding that, more than the surface happiness, which, while it’s pleasurable, is more fleeting, we should be learning to cultivate a deeper, more fulfilling happiness. I addressed the concept of the hedonic treadmill as part of the reason why the search for more money and a better job doesn’t lead to true, deep, lasting happiness, and what Aristotle called “eudaimonia,” or wellbeing and flourishing.
The field of positive psychology has been studying what it takes to really cultivate our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others, and a recent theory has laid out 6 pathways to flourishing: PERMA-V.
- Meaning and Purpose
- Accomplishment and Achievement
In today’s episode I discuss Relationships. We all crave relationships, we all want to have deep, meaningful relationships in our lives, but research study after research study has shown that loneliness has been steadily increasing over recent decades. And loneliness has been shown to have serious adverse effects on our health, as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Humans are wired for connection, and this has a basis in evolutionary biology. Go back in time, and our ancestors had to band together in order to survive against predators in their environment, raise crops in a community, and fight off other groups. Our brains developed to need relationships and community and connection. I share some fascinating, and disturbing, research that highlights the importance of close connection and that led to the founding of attachment theory.
Jane Dutton, at the University of Michigan, has studied high quality connections, specifically in the workplace. Low quality connections are those relationships that suck the life out of you and are draining. High quality connections leave you with feelings of vitality and aliveness, they feel supportive and loving, there’s positive regard and give and take on both sides. So, how do we create more high quality connections, both romantic and platonic?
In order to have high quality connections, there must be vulnerability and authenticity, and having a safe place to be ourselves helps us build trust and helps us to be more attuned with one another.
John Gottman, the leading researcher on marriage, points to what he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, four things that will absolutely kill a relationship — criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling — and I go into each of these in depth.
I offer several Purpose Power Tips for building stronger relationships — create rituals, learn about your love languages, utilize love maps, and show appreciation — and I provide details and examples for each. I also explain the communication process called Active Constructive Responding and how we should be striving to use this in our personal interactions (and avoiding the alternatives).
The late Chris Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology, said that much of the field of positive psychology can be boiled down to three words: Other people Matter. They matter to your happiness, your flourishing, and your overall health.
During this episode I mentioned a book by Katherine Woodward Thomas, Conscious Uncoupling, which you can find at Amazon here:
I also mentioned the Love Languages assessment, which you can take for free here:
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May you live purposefully, may you love yourself, and may you love life.
Bye for now!
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