How to improve Loving Mindful relationships?

Plenty of exercise. Healthy food. Positive attitude. Plain old good luck. There’s lots of advice out there about how to keep body and brain in optimal shape as the years roll by.

But Louis Cozolino, professor of psychology at Pepperdine University, is deeply engaged with another idea. In Cozolino’s book, Timeless: Nature’s Formula for Health and Longevity, he emphasizes the positive impact of human relationships.

“How we bond and stay attached to others is at the core of our resilience, self-esteem, and physical health,” Cozolino writes. “We build the brains of our children through our interaction with them, and we keep our own brains growing and changing throughout life by staying connected to others.”

Mindful Couple

5 Effective ways to strengthen your relationship:

Spend time with the right people

We generally become more and more like the people with whom we spend our time. The more we see someone model a behavior and see that behavior being reinforced in positive ways, the more likely we are to try it out ourselves—whether it’s a friend having success with a new exercise routine or a partner staying calm during disagreements by tuning into their breath.

One of the most fundamental ways to make sure your relationships are helping you grow is to surround yourself with the right people. Some relationships frustrate us, some make us happy, and some challenge us (and some relationships do all three!). While it isn’t always easy to stop and start relationships, of course, we can aim to spend more time with the people who challenge us.

Create goals with others

Who says that goal setting should be a solitary venture?

When we share our goals with others, we immediately have someone to keep us accountable. It is difficult to stay on track with a goal all the time, but it’s easier if we have someone to help us work through an obstacle or pick us up when we fall.

The social support that we receive from others is incredibly powerful, particularly during those tough times. When the pressure is high, those who have greater levels of social support tend to experience less stress.

We may also be more motivated when we are working toward a goal with someone else. Think about being pushed by a running mate to jog a little faster than you would otherwise. Or giving up your Saturday for a service project because a friend is doing the same thing. Sometimes we need someone else to inspire us to be our best.

Ask for feedback

It’s usually up to us to decide on the areas where we could use some self-improvement. And while this process of self-reflection is important, we can sometimes be bad judges of our own abilities; we usually assume we know much more than we actually do. So why not look to our relationships as a source of feedback about where we can improve?

Feedback is crucial for our development. Research has shown that when we seek feedback and use it as an opportunity for growth, we are more likely to improve over time. How much faster would that process be if we went and asked for feedback instead of waiting for it to come? Imagine your partner’s reaction if you were to ask for feedback on what you could have done differently after a big fight, or how blown away your teenager would be if you asked how you could be a better parent this school year.

Our positive relationships represent a safe space for us to work on ourselves with support from people who care about us. But sometimes we have to make the first move and ask for that support.

Use your broader network

Just like financial capital, social capital is a valuable resource that we can invest in for our own good. The more meaningful relationships we have, the more social resources become available. We often find work or beloved hobbies through our relationships, even at three or four degrees of separation—like your brother’s wife’s friend, who heard about that great new job opening.

In addition to exposing us to new ideas, activities, and opportunities, social capital also frees us up to do more of the things we are good at when we find others to help with the things we aren’t as good at. This has benefits at home and at work: For example, employees are more engaged when they get to spend more time using their strengths. And teenagers are happier and less stressed when their parents focus on building their strengths.

Be grateful

Gratitude has long been promoted as a way of increasing our happiness, but it also motivates us toward self-improvement. If you want a simple boost from your relationships, you can start by just practicing gratitude for them. The act of being thankful can increase our confidence and encourage us to move forward with our goals, perhaps because it tends to make us feel more connected to people and creates feelings of elevation—a strong positive emotion that comes when we see others do good deeds.

So think about someone who has helped you a great deal in the past, and reach out to thank them. Not only will that exchange feel good for both of you, but it might also reignite a relationship that can spark your further growth.