In our last post, we talked about the importance of feeling loved and how it affects your physical and mental health. In this blog, we will further examine the importance of relationships and what it means to not only feel loved but also to help those around you feel loved.
The Study of Adult Development — an almost eighty-year study on health and wellness conducted by Harvard University — concluded that relationships play a large role in our physical and mental wellbeing, specifically, how well we are able to deal with other people.
In his book on the study, director George E. Valliant stated, “The lives of all three cohorts repeatedly demonstrated that it was social aptitude — sometimes called emotional intelligence — not intellectual brilliance or parental social class that leads to a well-adapted old age.”
According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. Most psychologists agree that emotional intelligence can be broken down into three skills: the ability to identify emotions, harness emotions, and manage emotions.
The first emotional skill that contributes to emotional intelligence is the ability to simply name the emotions that you or someone else is displaying. Can you recognize joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and other emotions when you feel them? Can you recognize those emotions in others?
A great way to develop this skill is to first practice mindfulness. When you look inward and take note of how you feel in various situations, you will learn how to identify the different emotions you feel. Once you’ve learned to recognize emotions in yourself, you can begin to identify them in others by being more observant. When you look outward and observe your surroundings, including your peers, you will be able to better identify emotions in others.
The next skill that improves emotional intelligence is the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem-solving. In other words, you can learn how to use your emotions to your advantage. The best way to develop this skill is to become more self-aware. When you are aware of yourself and how you are feeling, you have better control over yourself.
The last emotional intelligence skill is the ability to manage your emotions, also known as self-regulation. Can you remain calm and collected, even when you’re experiencing stress? Can you avoid emotional outbursts? The best way to practice self-regulation is to think before you act. Don’t let your emotions rule over you.
Emotional intelligence helps you become more emotionally aware, but it also helps you develop better social skills. Specifically, emotional intelligence helps you develop empathy — which is the ability to identify and understand the emotional needs of others. So if you can better understand your partner, your relationship will only benefit.
Director of the study, George E. Valliant, explains that successful aging requires that a person continue to make new friends and expand their social horizons at every stage in life. In fact, social skills and emotional intelligence were some of the most powerful predictors of healthy aging.
Now that you understand the importance of relationships, you should do everything you can to nourish them. Whether it’s a platonic or romantic relationship, don’t forget to communicate and practice empathy. When you and your partner both practice those basic skills, your relationship will flourish.
It can be hard to develop new friendships, especially when you are an adult. But there are still ways to meet new people and build a friend group. If you’re religious, church is a great way to socialize. If you’re a performer, you could look into your local community theatre. If those aren’t your scenes, there are also a ton of online resources like Meetup.com, where you can find countless groups of adults in your area with various interests and hobbies.
To learn more about the Study of Adult Development, check out our other posts. And if you would like to take control of your mental health, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to schedule an appointment with a psychologist.