Advice on Living and Loving

Advice on Living and LovingAdvice on Living and Loving

Some of the best advice that one can give or receive is to build-up our relationships with others.

Humans are social beings. We enjoy being understood and accepted; feeling that we belong. Maybe that’s why our friends, family, business associates, and romantic partners are so important to us.

Here is some wise counsel on managing those relationships and what middle aged and the elderly would advise younger people to do to avoid regrets.

  1. Stop worrying so much.

    One of the biggest regrets that most people have is spending so much time worrying. I’m not talking about planning, but the kind of worrying that all of us do over things we have no control.
    Someone once said, “I knew there were going to be layoffs at my job. I did nothing over the coming three months except worry about being laid off. I poisoned my life. I didn’t think about anything else, even though I had no control over it.” They wished they had those three months back, because it was a lifetime.

  2. Sweat the small stuff in your relationships.

    The key to great relationships are — the small, minute-to-minute, moment of truth, day-to-day interactions that make up relationships.

    We tend to think of relationships globally. But all relationships are made up of hundreds or thousands of micro-interactions where you have the opportunity to be positive and supportive or to be dismissive and uninterested.

    It takes around 10 positive interactions to make up for one nasty one, so the ratio of positive to negative small interactions in a relationship is really critical.

    For example, one of the things that wise people argue is that we should be more polite in our relationships. You know, the old things that people learned in elementary school, to say please and thank you and observe normal civility, is something people forget to do all the time in their relationships, mostly because we feel comfortable.

    Make a habit of positive things, of compliments, of small surprises, of doing a friend a favor. People who have very positive relationships consciously tend to maximize these small positive interactions.

  3. Prioritize your relationships.

    Put your relationships first, and don’t let the world distract you from having great relationships with your family, friends, and others.

    People tend to lose themselves in the mix of work and kids and fundamentally abandon attention to their most important relationships. The advice of the oldest Americans is very similar to that famous instruction on airplanes — put your own oxygen mask on first and then put it on the kids. If you aren’t attending to your relationships, you aren’t going to be very effective as a friend. If you lose yourself in the middle-aged blur of work and kids, you really won’t do your friends, family, or relatives any justice.

  4. People who share core values typically have better relationships.

    Befriend someone a lot like you.

    We have in our popular culture this vast amount of examples of where opposites attract and make for great relationships, from “Romeo and Juliet” through “The Little Mermaid” through “Pretty Woman” and on and on. Research says, not so much. Relationships where the friends are pretty similar across a range of domains tend to last longer and be more fullfilling. What seems to really make the difference are core shared values. For example, work and the importance of work, the number of children and the way children are raised, goals for children, how important money is, spiritual and religious values to some extent. If there’s core value similarity, that seems to really make for these longer and happier relationships.

  5. Communicate early, communicate often.

    Virtually all people in strong lasting relationships say the key to their successful relationship was learning how to communicate effectively on important issues. People who divorce and and/orfall out of friendships very typically attribute it to a communication breakdown.

  6. Approach relationships as a discipline.

    The best relationships should be viewed as a discipline, similar to the kind of discipline like learning music or a martial art. Relationships should be viewed as a lifelong path, one that you never perfect and that you continually work to get better at.

  7. Share the story of your life.

    It is very important to reminiscence. People should be able to see their lives as a meaningful whole, to be able to sum it up into a coherent narrative, and then be able to share that story.

    You will find that towards the end of life, what’s really important to you is to be able to see how your life mattered, how it was meaningful, how there was a story to it that wraps up in a good way. People who are able to create that kind of narrative, and think of their life in that way, typically have better relationships.

    People should write down what they would like to leave to younger generations about their values and principles and morality, how someone should live a life.