Relationships can be both one’s greatest source of happiness and one’s greatest source of stress. Here are a few practices to help you get the most out of your relationships – whether romantic, collegial, or familial.
5) Be grateful:
One of the most common sources of tension in relationships is the feeling of being unappreciated. Often, it’s not that we don’t appreciate the people in our lives, but that we have trouble expressing that gratitude. One reason for this failure is being busy and preoccupied with one’s own life. Another reason is that some people are less comfortable being expressive.
Carving out a small amount of time for regular gratitude practice will serve as a reminder of the importance of other people in your life. It will remind one to be grateful.
If you’ve explored EKA’s gratitude practices, maybe you’ve already experienced the benefits.
4) Walk a Mental Mile in the Shoes of Another:
Another common relationship problem occurs when one expects others to see the world in the same way that one does. When a person behaves differently than expected, one may think that person is crazy, immoral, or irrational. However, it may be that the individual is behaving in a way that is perfectly natural, given his or her point of view.
We each have our own backgrounds and responsibilities. When you confront behavior that seems wrong, consider the problem from the other person’s perspective.
For example: Imagine that you ask your boss for time off for a holiday next week. You expect him to say yes, but he says no. At this point, many people will jump to the conclusion that the boss doesn’t like them personally, and they may become resentful because they think they’ve done everything that the job requires and more. Now, imagine that you are responsible for the schedule. From this new perspective, it might occur to you that many of your co-workers might have already requested the time off. Perhaps the boss is right to be concerned that he won’t have enough workers to get the job done. It might occur to you that if everyone was granted time off requests, the schedule would be in chaos, and the customers would suffer.
3) Metta, or Loving-Kindness:
Metta is the Pali name for a popular Buddhist compassion building practice. In metta, one attempts to carry forward the feelings of love and well-wishing that one has for those closest to one to those individuals for whom it is more difficult to hold affectionate feelings. You may have experienced practices based on this approach on the EKA app. There are variations on the practice, but it generally involves wishing well to oneself, to one’s closest loved one, to someone that one knows but isn’t close to, to one’s enemy, and — finally — to all sentient beings. The practice of Metta helps us rewire the way we think about others so that we aren’t so quick to put people into boxes, and we can be more universal with compassion.
2) Recognize and adapt to diversity:
The problem being addressed here is similar to that described in item #4. That is, the assumption that everyone else experiences the world in the same way as one does. When another person has tendencies that are different from one’s own, it can cause tensions that neither party fully understands. Here are some examples:
-Setting a 7:30am meeting with a night owl or a 7:30pm meeting with a morning person isn’t likely to give one access to that person in his or her most energized state.
-While an extrovert might be pleased to have a friendly face pop into the office on the spur of the moment, an introvert is more likely to be caught off-guard or be distracted because they can’t make rapid shifts in and out of their mental zone.
-One of the most common causes of dissatisfaction in romantic relationships is a failure to understand how the opposite sex experiences pleasure in intimate relations.
1) Keeping it fresh:
In long-term relationships, continue to try to learn one new thing about the person each week. As a relationship matures, this becomes more challenging. But, even if you fail, the attempt to succeed (i.e. asking questions or watching more intently) will yield dividends.
Best of luck, and we hope you find these practices useful.