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The best gift you’ll ever give or receive

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The best gift you’ll ever give or receive

For so many of us, 2017 seems to have been a bit of a tumultuous personal and professional year, given the volatile political, economic and environmental climate.
There were definitely numerous speechless moments across the planet in 2017. Global shifts are taking place. This is certainly a time of big change. What will be the impact? What is in store for the human race?
On a more personal note you might be wondering about your future and how to create more happiness, success and well-being in your life. Will this be the year that you will finally be able to make all those positive changes that you long for.

One message which continues to hit home, is that there are no guarantees in life, and that we have absolutely no control over circumstances or other people. So how do we find peace and joy in an uncertain world? Is there anything that we can rely on? Well perhaps there is some solace to be found in science.

What if there was a proven way to give and receive the gift of happiness and well-being? Wouldn’t you like to be let in on this secret?

2016 saw the the release of the results of one of the longest and most comprehensive well-being studies conducted, in history; The 75 year Harvard Happiness Study, which commenced in 1938. Yes, you might be thinking I’m a bit of a science-geek, but I thrive on proof and fact; it gives us a foundation we can trust. And by the way, the results of the study will probably not surprise you one bit. But sometimes it’s encouraging to see proof of what we already know, and get that reinforcement and reminder to place our focus on the things that we know will lead us to a happier life, to ultimately be happier and healthier people.

Love, love, love…

Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant, who led the study from 1972 to 2004, writes that there are two pillars of happiness: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away. The conclusion of the study in his words: “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

My take-away from the study is that love is almost like the fuel for our happiness.
So I guess the important questions become: Are we doing enough to nurture, create and sustain the love in our lives? What could we start doing differently today to expand our experience of love and invite it into our lives? (By the way, this also includes self-love.)

Relationships are everything

Not surprisingly, relationships were proven to be an indicator of both overall life satisfaction, as well as career satisfaction. “Let me lay out 70 years of evidence that our relationships with other people matter, and matter more than anything else in the world,” writes Vaillant in a 2009 Positive Psychology News article. Whether we like it or not, relationships count most. Is it always easy to work at our relationships? No. But what the study reveals, is that when we do get to the end of our lives, what we hold closest and wish we could have had more of, are loving relationships. So then, let us not wait until we are 75 years old before taking action in our lives!

With this new year rapidly picking up speed, isn’t it the perfect opportunity to put these two insights into action? Could you turn it into an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in not only your life, but the lives of the people close to you, by giving and receiving the gift of love and connectedness?

The past few years, the gravity of these two principles particularly came to the fore for me, having left my family and friends behind in my home-country, to embark on a new life abroad. It took the isolation of expatriation to teach me this lesson. It became clear how immensely important my people were to me, and how easily one can take one’s relationships for granted when you are nearby. My relationships have now become sacred to me and I treasure every interaction.
Relationships are everything, the only thing one can rely on, to bring the love. That love that makes the world go round.

Wishing you all the love and happiness in 2018 and beyond!