Powerful Words Series: [Relationship] Quotes Rooted in Positive Psychology

Let's face it - hearing the charge CARPE DIEM is the equivalent of hearing the doo-doo-doo of baby shark for the umpteenth time. It may have given you your groove the first few times (it's okay, admit it), but after a while even this ubiquitous up-and-at-'em phrase loses its fire. For me, a good quote is one that uplifts, resonates, and inspires. However, a GREAT quote is something that does all of that, and is rooted in truth - not just old wisdom, but scientific fact. This foundation of scientific methodology is what differentiates the field of positive psychology (also referred to as the science of well-being) is from your run of the mill self-help literature. In this Powerful Quote Series, I'll share my favorite quotes that fall under well-being topics like mindset, resilience, relationships, purpose, joy, etc. along with the science that bolsters them. If you have a favorite quote that you'd like to share, comment below!

#1 "Other People Matter. Period." - Chris Peterson

This is likely one of the most famous quotes in positive psychology and one of my favorites. When asked to summarize the major findings within the field of positive psychology, Dr. Chris Peterson, one of the founders of the field, stated "other people matter, period." When we think about not just being happy, but truly thriving as an individual and society as a whole, mattering and belonging is essential.

This hard wiring is something that was instilled when we were still living in caves - to be excluded by the community was the equivalent of a death sentence. Today, we may be able to meet our material basic needs without relying on our neighbor, but it’s relationships with those around us that fulfill our psychosocial needs of intimacy, affection, and companionship. Just as our stomach rumbles when it’s hungry, our body feels lonely when it needs social connection. When our social needs go unmet, that experience can feel like mental and physical anguish. Loneliness is so damaging that some countries have begun to recognize it as a public health epidemic, organizing campaigns to provide social resources to those in need. Even Abraham Maslow, father of modern psychology (and likely the only name you remember from Psychology 101) said that the experience of love and belonging comes second only to 1) the things that keep us alive (food, water, etc.) and 2) safety!

#2. “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

— William Shakespeare

We can easily tell when a relationship elevates us, just as much as we can tell when it stinks! Positive relationships are characterized by pro-social behavior (acting with each other’s well-being or best interests in mind), loyalty, intimacy, and few conflicts. Two of my favorite relationship researchers (Drs. Jane Dutton and Emily Heaphy) use the metaphor of a healthy blood vessel to describe positive connections between two people. Healthy blood vessels enable tissues within our body to become flexible, strong, and resilient – a symbiotic relationship that promotes mutual growth and support. In relationships, the quality of these connections we have with others supersedes the number of connections, in alignment with the common phrase quality over quantity. These types of connections help us to grow and adjust, bolstering our self-confidence and social competence. They also enhance our quality of life, boosting our positive affect, subjective well-being and overall life satisfaction. People who feel strongly connected with others are more likely to be resilient in response to challenges as well. Research has shown that individuals who have a friend they could call in the early hours of the morning to talk about their troubles were likely to live longer.

#3 “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

— C.S. Lewis

I love this quote because it unveils the yearning each of us has to have a true, authentic connection with another. Dr. Brené Brown has stated “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.” It’s easy to weigh the value of positive connections like life-long friendships or romantic relationships, but the sporadic, temporal connections matter too! Researchers call these micro connections. These are spontaneous, positive connections that are short-term in nature (think: friendly banter with your local barista). But just because these exchanges are short-term, doesn’t mean that the benefits are. I’m sure you can recall a recent connection you’ve with someone that lifted your spirits or put a smile on your face long after it ended. These moments of shared experience can be powerful and uplifting, and interestingly, they can also influence us to be even more social as a result. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s Broaden-and-build theory, when we’re in a good mood, we’re more likely to seek out others and make positive connections. Positive psychologists suggest one of the quickest ways to be instantly happier: do a random act of kindness for someone else. Why? Because "Other People Matter. Period."

When you think about your life, what are your most treasured memories? Odds are that you weren't alone in those moments. Perhaps you were celebrating with friends, dancing with your spouse, or coaching your mentee through that "aha!" moment. The relationships that we have in our lives - from momentary sparks to life-long friendships - make our lives worth living. There's a reason that relationships remain a key ingredient to all well-being theories!

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