4 Steps to Improve Your Relationship
So it's my birthday this Saturday (November 4). Yo, I'm pumped! More candles on my cake. Like most years, my close family asks me what I want for a birthday present, and I often find myself scrambling for an answer.
My younger self would probably say, some new Jordan's, clothes, a new gadget or piece of technology, but as I've gotten older and wiser, I'm seeking what true happiness feels like. During my journey of self discovery, I've learned that joy doesn't come from things, but from deep relationships.
And there's no relationship more important to me than the one I have with my amazing wife Kendra. All I want for my birthday is to connect on a deeper level with my wife. Honestly, that's it. I'm not saying this to get brownie points, I truly mean it.
This sentiment brings me back to an epiphany I had while watching a Ted Talk last summer. While doing my best to multitask by checking out a few Ted Talks on YouTube while watching the kids in our playroom (I promise Kendra, no one ate poop or swallowed Lego's), I stumbled across a speaker discussing a powerful insight into the human condition. He shared an 80 year study from Harvard that looked into what brings happiness. Tracking 268 Harvard sophomores and their off-spring since 1938, this study gave the researchers a wealth of data on what brings people true joy.
Their conclusion: Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed.
“The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”
Learn more about the Harvard happiness study here
If you are like I was for most of my life, where you look for status, things, money, accolades, and outcomes to bring happiness, then you will send yourself on a fruitless journey to a bottomless pit of emptiness.
Instead of titles and things, focus on people and relationships. You can't take things with you when you're gone from this earth. To live a glorious life, I believe we need to think about two L words: legacy and love. What kind of light did we shine, and what kind of wake did we leave behind? Even if that light and that wake was designed for one person.
Let me ask you a question, what's one relationship that is most important to you? Let's start there, and capitalize on this amazing opportunity. It could be a friendship, your marriage, a parent-child relationship; it could be a mentor-mentee relationship. My challenge to you today is this...how can you make your most important relationship better?
This is kind of like how I used to shop for clothes. I used to buy many cheaper pieces of clothing that would not last very long, because the quality wasn't there. Now, I'm into buying less garments, but at a much higher price and quality. I now look for the one timeless piece that is worth investing in (sorry T. Do, you told me about the strategy a long time ago, but like most men I'm a slow learner).
What's more important to you, quantity or quality? I found that quality is more important than quantity.
Here are 4 keys to improve your most important relationship. If you do these four steps, I promise you, it will be the best gift you can give to yourself and someone else special to you.
1. Love Yourself First.
This is a cliché of an example, but I often use it to make a point. When there is extreme turbulence in an aircraft, the first thing that they teach you to do is put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can help anybody else. How can you be of value to anybody else, if you don't have self respect and love for yourself?
You have so much to offer someone. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Accept who you truly are and don't feel like you need to fit-in. The goal is to belong, as in, belong to yourself first...then you'll be ready to belong to somebody else.
2. Be Vulnerable.
To have ultimate courage, is to be vulnerable. I believe that the truest form of connection is to be authentic with others. Being able to share our pains as well as our gains takes a level of bravery. When was the last time you sat down with someone you truly care about and asked them what is on their heart? When was the last time you truly shared with somebody what is on your heart? Put the phones away and dig deep. You should never worry nor win alone.
Make today the day where you really open up to that one person that you care about the most. Invite them to do the same, and watch your relationship rise. I believe that trust is the ultimate superpower. If you have vulnerability and trust with another person, your heart and souls become stronger, healthier, and true joy is set free from our internal chains of jealousy, insecurity, and the lie of perfection.
3. Be Intentional.
Greatness doesn't just appear. Whether you're an Olympic athlete, or a successful entrepreneur, nothing ever happens by accident. Effort and persistence are the engine that drives achievement. People in relationships that are struggling, I'll sometimes ask, "Are you putting in the same effort you did now as you did when you began the relationship?" That's usually a wake up call. I'm tired of the excuses, "I'm so busy." "We're so busy." Shut the F up. The phone call can wait. Answering that text message or email can wait. Stop lying to yourself, and glorifying the hustle. Having a deep, loving, and committed relationship is much cooler than how many followers you have on Instagram, or digits in your bank account.
Here's a thought, schedule quality time in your calendar just like you would any other important meeting.
I promise you this, when you look back on your life, I'll bet that you'll yearn more for feelings, moments, and experiences with somebody you love, versus watching a TV show, sleeping, working 70 hours per week, or buying some random thing that you won't care about in a year. Make some memories today, and do it with somebody you love.
4. Give More Than You Receive.
Kendra and I often discuss the power of giving and expecting nothing in return. That's the core mission of our marriage. We don't always execute this perfectly, but that is our intent. When giving and serving is the focus, call it God or the universe, but you will receive much more than you will focusing solely on yourself.
I think we just get lazy and lost in our own ego. We let pride stand in the way of our progress - as individuals and as a pair. Imagine if two people shared the common mission to truly serve the other person for the better. Picture what miracles and joy can be created with that mindset.
How can you serve your go-to person better? What's one thing you can do today that you know will fill their bucket? If this is the focus for each of you, you will experience the synergy of sacrifice and service. You both will rise to a fulfillment way more high then seeking your desires on your own. I call this a RISE Relationship.
Happy Relationship Gameplan: Do this today and watch your happiness and relationship RISE.
1. Identify the relationship that is most important to you.
2. Tell yourself that you are amazing, that you are awesome just the way you are, and you have what it takes to bring value to the person you love the most.
3. Be intentional about scheduling quality time, and doing something that you enjoy together with that person. But here's the twist, make that date, or that event all about the other person, and see what happens.
4. Open up and be vulnerable about something that you don't normally talk about. Ask the other person to do the same.
This might be strange or uncomfortable for you, or you might be a pro at this. Either way, what do you have to lose?
I can't wait to do this with Kendra on my birthday date night. Who knows, if I follow steps 1-4 above, I might be able to wear my birthday suit later. 😜🤣😈
Get your copy of my books Project Rise and the Rise Journal and learn 8 key habits to be your best self!
Leggo! #RiseUp #BestVersionOfYou