So the Bible knowledge and brain science is good to know, but what does it mean for you and for me every day? What can we do with the knowledge? Well, that’s where social science comes into the picture. It’s intensely comforting to me that the Bible proves we are relational beings, and that brain science proves we are relational beings, and that, from social science – a completely different kind of science altogether – you can prove that we are relational beings. The good thing about social science is it also shows us how to be relational. I thought we could spend the rest of today, then, looking at social science and learning proven ways to become good at relationships.
And what would that have to do with happiness? Well, not surprisingly, when we humans, created as relational beings by God, have good relationship, social science tells us we will be happier. Social science has proven that when we have better relationships, we are happier. Not only that – like all good things of God – when we are happier, we have better relationships. Happiness and relationships are an upward spiral. If you’re happy, it helps you have good relationships. And, if you have good relationships, it helps you be happier. They go together like peas and carrots.
So let’s get to it. First, some little known truths about relationships…. Introverts benefit from relationships just like extroverts. It’s just that they don’t need as many.
Here’s another one: We have an idea, in our society, about rugged individualism and going it alone and all that – very valuable, but that’s really hard for us to do in actuality, according to research findings. People feel happier when they are working together and have the support of other people on the team. Even those who are individualistic do better when they have strong relationships. So those of you that think of yourself that way – you know, you islands out there – you do better if you had more help.
We can learn new relationship skills all our lives – even in old age. Did you know that? That’s another thing that’s very important to understand. Getting old is not an excuse to become a curmudgeon. If we do learn something new in our old age, or make a new friend, it helps us always, because we are relational all the way down to the cellular level from the instant we’re conceived until the moment we die. All kinds of good things happen to us when we make friends and have positive social interaction.
Let’s think about why relationships make us happy. When we’re on our own, much of our energy is spent taking care of self, protecting self, watching our back, so to speak – our own back, actually. When we have loving relationships, we don’t tend to narrow our focus onto self-care and survival tasks so much. We’re free to reach out, look out, be more creative, be interested in other things and other people, which, in turn, increases the chance of creating an enriching relationship – another cycle.