Life Satisfaction Secrets Revealed!
Most studies demonstrating the importance of connection focus on connection to others. It is likely of no surprise that the existing body of research supports that humans are built for connection and experience a myriad of positive health and wellbeing outcomes as a result of connection to others. Indeed the research I am referencing today, and which I will link to at the end of this article, asserts this reality by finding that connection to others increase flourishing and life satisfaction.
Flourishing in the research is a specific term from a positive psychology perspective. Dr. Lynn Soots defines it best.
“Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.”
Furthermore, disconnection in this, and other studies continue to show that symptoms of anxiety and depression worsen when disconnected from others.
Additionally, providing connection with tangible or emotional support toward others was shown in a longitudinal study by Brown in 2003 to reduce the risk of mortality by 50%. So, connection with others is central to living longer, as well as enjoying life better.
A far newer focus of research in psychology, and something that has been a central focus of my work with others for over a decade, is that of relationship to self. Connection to self. One of the outcomes of engaging in resolution and reintegration practices is to discover an unconditional loving connection to self. From this place, we can know ourselves better, accept ourselves with ease, and become free from the visible and invisible constraints of our past. At least, that is what I see with people.
But, back to the research on self-connection. Research suggests that 3 components are present in self-connection.
- Awareness of oneself
- Acceptance of oneself based on this awareness
- Alignment of ones own behaviors with this awareness
Awareness of the self can be thought of as understanding how one feels, thinks, and behaves and what one’s values, goals, and priorities are. Self-acceptance is an unconditional acceptance of these things one knows about self. Self-alignment occurs when there is congruence between one’s internal self and external behaviors.
Q. So how is your self-connection?
Just to note, as the researchers do. Self-connection is related to authenticity and mindfulness, but it is distinct. Ultimately, the key in self-connection is acceptance of the self.
Self-disconnection occurs when one of the following is low: self-awareness, self-acceptance and/or self-alignment.
When we lack self-awareness then we lack understanding about why we do what we do, make the decisions we make, and behave how we do. When self-awareness is low, people will try to engage in introspection, that is, asking themselves why they do this or that…and often arrive at faulty conclusions.
Let’s explore that a little further.
Question. Have you ever asked yourself “why do I keep doing this” when you dislike the outcome? Perhaps you might even recall something you regularly do. Then I’d like you to reflect on the answer you give yourself because it is likely wrong.
Faulty conclusions I hear regularly:
- I’m lazy
- I just can’t control myself
- I’m selfish
You can probably see why it could be hard to engage willingly in becoming aware of yourself if you hold judgemental, critical and negative beliefs about who you are. The temptation to stay at the surface level explanation of why you are the way you are rather than to compassionately see yourselves in context makes a lot of sense, especially when you don’t actually know how to release negative thoughts.
Engaging in deep work to gain an accurate self-awareness is individual work beyond the scope of what I can offer here. I myself, having taken this journey with hundreds, if not thousands of clients over the years have found a few approaches to be particularly effective in achieving all 3 elements of connectedness to self.
- The first is accessing the unconscious reasons about why we do what we do. For this, I trained in the only evidence-based hypnotherapy approach which is taught by the Quest Institute in London called Cognitive Hypnotherapy. Within an hour, I could sit with a client and use a completely safe, self-guided hypnosis process which would allow them to discover their truest self, experience healing changes that allow for self-acceptance, and then result in identifying new behaviors that align with this new way of relating to self.
- I also created a small and intimate group experience, it was a full day focused on this work. Participants collectively engaged in the benefits of self-connection through these 3 stages, as well as, connecting with each other, which we know has further amazing benefits. I am hoping to run 1 or more of these full-day sessions in 2022. If you’d like to be on the early sign-up list to get first access then please email me your interest at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For those of you who are, for whatever reason, unable to engage in working with a professional who specializes in this work. I suggest the following. Practice asking yourself the following question every day, and regularly throughout the day.
“If I actually knew my true self and wanted what is healthiest and kindest for them, and accepted myself with love, what would I choose to do next as a reflection of that?”
When we behave as though something were true, it gives our bodies, our minds and our relationship to ourselves the experience of being loved and accepted as we are, in the present. Simply choosing to respond in ways that reflect the relationship you wish you had with yourself, can induce positive growth.
Asking this question without having completed the first two stages of the work, you suspend that work which is not accessible in the present, for the outcomes of treating yourself as worthy of wellbeing, which could feel satisfying over time.
Once a healthy and strong connection to self is established, people tend to experience the following:
- They become less critical and judgmental of themselves or others, preferring to see themselves and others in a compassionate context.
- They don’t outwardly put themselves down.
- They seem comfortable and confident with themselves, and in a way that doesn’t ever diminish anyone else.
- They are kind enough to themselves and others to have boundaries.
No wonder life is measurably more satisfying!
Takeaways from the research.
- If you want to improve your wellbeing and specifically reduce depression and anxiety then focus on connection to others.
- To increase flourishing seek connection to others.
- To increase life satisfaction seek connectedness to self and others.