Have you noticed an air of grumpiness, grievances and god-awful moods amongst your friends and family this last year? Both you and they are not alone—2017 has been quite a challenge for many people. Watching the country further divide itself over policies and rhetoric that significantly hurts and endangers certain groups is exhausting. And, after the holidays, many of us are living with the sad reminder that we share DNA with some of the people causing such rifts.
If ever there were a year for a boost in the quality of our relationships, 2018 is it. Perhaps friendships have gone stale, romances have hardened and family connections have grown sour. There are ways to address some of the significant issues that pop up in our daily communication with loved ones—and even with strangers—that can make the next year 100 times better than the last. Try out these resolutions and see how your relationships grow!
1) Make time for regular contact
Priorities may seem like they are self-defined, but that is not always the case. There are elements in our lives over which we have full control, including how we rank the importance of certain relationships. This year, be firm with yourself and make an effort to get together with the important folks on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a monthly coffee date or making a point to text each other to see how their day is going. Make relationships a priority this year.
2) Get creative with your quality time
Doing the same old thing can get stale very quickly. Branch out and try out activities that are just on the edge of your comfort zone. Look into a new resource on what’s happening in your community and invite your SO to check it out. If you usually catch up with your parents by hosting a movie night, mix it up by going out on the town for a comedy show or out to the woods for a winter hike. Be creative!
3) Practice your active listening
This technique is essential for relationships with both our closest confidants and those who ruffle our feathers. Active listening includes hearing what words the other person is saying, listening for subtext and not spending the whole time your mouth is shut drafting what you’ll say when you open it again. Even in the heat of an argument active listening can make a huge difference.
4) Make expressing gratitude a priority
Think of the important folks in your lives. When was the last time you thanked them for something small, yet important, they did? When was the last time you told them you appreciate them for who they are? If you’re still struggling to conjure up the answers, your relationships could probably benefit from a regular gratitude practice. It doesn’t have to be formal—just make sure that you express your appreciation to the ones you love on a regular basis. Write a letter or card, reflect on a moment with them where you felt thankful for their presence, or just simply say the words.
5) Don’t kick yourself when it gets rough
All of these resolutions are often easier said than done. We are human, after all, and humans screw up stuff all the time. But the best, longest-lasting relationships can make it through our flubs and failures if we take the time to repair the damage made and strive toward doing better in the future.
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