Starr's Keys to Happiness: Consciously Choosing Your Relationships

in #life6 years ago

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I'm not an expert on human happiness, but I am a generally happy person, and that's got to count for something.

Of course, I experience bouts of sadness and "blah"-ness like anyone else, but they tend to be minor and short-lived. I also have things that I want and goals that I've not yet achieved, and I experience setbacks and periods of uncertainty, but overall, I can honestly say that I love my life.

Recently, I've been contemplating the subject of happiness and asking myself how I manage to maintain my good feeling about life when it seems so many others have such a hard time doing so. After a lot of thought, I've boiled it down to a few factors, which I'll be sharing with you over the next few days on Steemit. These are my "keys to happiness". Try them out and see if they resonate with you, too.

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The first key has to do with the people you surround yourself with. Cut toxic people out of your life, and consciously choose better relationships.

A toxic person is one who makes you feel crappy just being around them. They are people who:

  • Do not try to control their emotions, who have frequent angry outbursts or tearful pleas for attention, directed at you.
  • Use manipulative tactics to get you to do what they want or to gain their love and approval.
  • Think they own your time.
  • Always treat you like you owe them something.
  • Need or expect a lot from you, but aren't willing to reciprocate.
  • Are constantly complaining, have a negative attitude, and rarely offer solutions to the problems they are always complaining about.
  • Say terrible things about others behind their backs. (Free clue: If your friend always talks shit about a mutual friend to you when the mutual friend is not present, I guarantee they are talking shit about you when you're not there.)
  • Put you down, judge you, and tell you all the reasons why you can't succeed.
  • Seem to be "stuck" on their own life path, and not trying to grow or move forward.

It's really difficult to be happy when you're constantly surrounded by toxic people. Often, we find ourselves lumped into situations with people we can't stand, but we feel we have to put up with them for some reason. This is especially common at workplaces, where you don't have much choice who your workmates are, but it also occurs within families and friend groups.

Sometimes we don't even realize our friend or family member has a toxic influence on us--we're so accustomed to it that it takes an extra measure of observation of our feelings to notice.

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It's true that we don't get to choose the family we're born into. But as adults, we can choose whether to invest any further time and energy into familial relationships. Pictured in this collage is my daughter and fellow Steemian, @purplepencilgirl.

The question to ask yourself is: "How do I feel when I'm around this person?"

Does this person add joy and meaning to my life? Do I feel that we "have each other's backs"? Does the thought of seeing them make me smile? Do I feel free to be myself when I'm around them? If you answer no to any of these questions, it's time to reevaluate your relationship with that person.

Perhaps you have a friend who consistently makes you feel crappy every time you hang out with them, but you keep hanging out with them because you've been friends for a long time. Or maybe it's a sibling or even a parent who brings you down, but you keep up your part of the relationship out of familial obligation.

I once had a friend--I'll call her Marie. When I first met Marie, I thought she was awesome. She radiated this aura of fun and coolness, and she really felt like someone I would love to be friends with. We hit it off at first, and then I started spending more and more time with her. As time went on, though, our time together began to feel less fun and more like work. In fact, I started to feel like I was constantly auditioning for her approval. She judged the clothes I wore, but it was in an offhand, jokey way. She always wanted to be in charge of choosing how we would spend our time together. Whenever I suggested an activity, she shot it down and we ended up doing what she wanted to do. Worst of all, after she felt she had gained my trust, she started gossiping nonstop about some of our mutual friends, even lying about them. Of course, it was always with the caveat that I shouldn't repeat what she said. I was in my early twenties at the time, and this was one of my first real experiences with toxic people. I didn't fully realize what the problem was, so I stuck around and tried to hold onto the friendship. It wasn't until I heard some nasty, untrue, and very specific rumors about myself through the grapevine that I understood what a toxic influence Marie had on my life. I never confronted her about any of it. I just stopped going over to her house and stopped returning her calls. After that, I was much more careful about who I let into my life.

Now I see my time as my most valuable resource, and relationships as an investment of my time. I try to be very conscientious about my time investments. If the investment is paying negative dividends, it's time to take your losses and move on.

The truth is, it is completely your choice who you surround yourself with. If you have a toxic influence in your life, it is entirely possible to minimize it through the choices you make. If you work with a bunch of assholes, you can change jobs or begin to work for yourself. It might take awhile to implement the career change, and there might be a period of struggle or uncertainty, but even so, it's far better for your long-term happiness to get out of the situation. If you have a toxic friend or family member, it is okay to cut them out of your life or at least minimize contact with them. Your emotional health is more important than any feelings of obligation to toxic people.

Once you've done the hard work of excising toxic relationships from your life, you can start the infinitely more exciting process of choosing new relationships that add to your overall feeling of happiness.

There are many ways to meet new people with whom you can pursue new healthy relationships. I find that the best way is to join groups and attend events based on shared interests. The majority of my most valued friendships these are with people I met through science fiction writing workshops or anarchist/voluntaryist conferences. Our shared interests formed a foundation on which a wonderful conscious friendship could be built.

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I believe I deserve amazing friendships, so I consciously look for amazing humans to be friends with. Don't settle! Pictured in this collage are Steemians @erikaharris, @j3551c4, @kieranpearson, @layl, @nirele, and @chenarchy.

There are a few qualities I look for in people I consciously spend time with. They're pretty much the opposite of the list of toxic behaviors above. Good potential friends are those who:

  • Put effort into dealing with their emotions, and don't try to make you responsible for their feelings.
  • Freely express love and approval to their friends
  • Treat your time as equally valuable to theirs.
  • Don't treat you as if you are obligated to spend time with them or do things for them.
  • Reciprocate the energy and time you invest into the relationship.
  • Have a positive attitude and are solution-oriented.
  • Speak kindly to and about others; keep their criticisms at a detached and helpful level.
  • Encourage you to be the best you can be.
  • Are committed to self-improvement.

Of course, it would only be fair for you to evaluate yourself for those qualities, as well. Be honest with yourself. If any are lacking, you have the power to change that. In order to attract a good friend, you have to be a good friend. And this goes equally for romantic partners.

So if you want to increase your own happiness, start with consciously choosing your relationships. Find people who you can be happy with.

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Here are some of my other recent posts you might enjoy:

What if Some People Use Crypto for Evil?

Ode to the Taxation is Theft Meme

When Anarchists Aren't Really Anarchists: Understanding the AnCom Worldview

Freedom is Watching Your Step

The Real Reason Why School Shootings Happen

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Hi, I'm Starr!

I believe all human interactions should be consensual.

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I love you, Steemit!

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Your post is really reall nice. I am more motivated by this area

Once you've done the hard work of excising toxic relationships from your life, you can start the infinitely more exciting process of choosing new relationships that add to your overall feeling of happiness.
Thanks for motivating me. I seem to be a victim of all you have said above. I have also upvoted because it helped.

Glad to help, @dintellectual. Consciously choosing your relationships is probably the single most important step you can take to increasing your overall happiness. You don't realize how much energy toxic people suck out of you until you get away from them!

Hi,

Just came across you post,

Reading you're post made me realise that I actually have nobady that i can count on except my parents and even then i wouldn't count on them despite showing me weird ways of love.

When you cut off toxic people, you really need good people in your life, because the moment you remove them, you will be lonely and loneliness is a big killer, which often leads to depression.

On the other hand, toxic relationships can make you even more lonely than when it is just you by yourself.

But there is someone there, loneliness is just you by yourself, some people will like that, others no matter how much they can’t help it are reliant on people as a source of happiness, whether they be toxic or not.

Some people are just unique.

You seem to have noticed how the attention economy works in interpersonal relationships.

Hey guys I just uploaded my first post, please check it out and let me know what you think? thankshttps://steemit.com/relationships/@chickenburger/the-truth-about-why-relationships-fail

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