When I spoke in church on Sunday, and the phrase, “Marriage is the best self-help program,” spilled out of me, I realized how fixated with self-help I really am right now. Yes, as a 21-year-old, I’ve already started reading self-help books for fun. But I believe it’s true—marriage IS the best self-help program. A good marriage. And to extend the statement, I believe that building relationships in general is the best self-help program. Families, by default, are the best self-help programs.
There’s something about warm human interaction that makes us feel better, isn’t there? Look out, reader, I’ve got another Ted talk coming your way! It turns out, Harvard has directed “The Study of Adult Development” for 75 years and has found that the things that make your life not only happy, but also healthy, are warm, meaningful, reliable relationships. Robert Waldinger can tell you all about it.
In the talk, Waldinger says, “Over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships—with family, with friends, with community.”
Then he asks the question, “So what about you? . . . What might leaning into relationships look like?”
To me, building relationships is a type of life insurance: when you start to crumble, the people and communities you’ve invested in are there to build you back up.
I challenge you to make investments in your relationships over the next two weeks. It could be an investment with a family member—sending a text to your sibling or calling a grandparent. Maybe you need to write a card for a parent and tell them how much they mean to you. Perhaps you could babysit a friend’s child. What about surprising your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse with a fun night out or a cozy night in? Maybe you want to ask someone on a date, or talk to the stranger on the elevator, or stay up late with a roommate. Or have a conversation with a child.
By investing in relationships in your life, you’re investing in your own health and happiness.
In two weeks, I plan on writing about overcoming the fear to be creative. Please comment below and request more topics on self-improvement.