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5 Psychologist-Approved Tips for Connecting with Joy!

Feeling the urge to really connect with your loved ones? Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, bonding opportunities await you in the most unexpected places. Now is the time to slow down, tune in, and make time to connect from the heart. When we carve out time to mindfully foster connection, we’re feeding the very relationships that are with us all year long.

Your relationships will sparkle with joy when you embrace the below tips that foster lasting emotional connection and delight.

1. Make it a habit to give to others!

Giving from the heart is one of the most wonderful ways to connect with those we care about. Life gives us many opportunities to give and share in the simplest of ways. Whether you give through setting up a family volunteering time, sharing time with a hurting friend, or giving to a child in need, you’ll feel more connected when you make it a practice to give to others.

Action item: Create at least one or two give-back events on your calendar each month. The more you make giving an ongoing habit, the more connected and joyful you’ll be!

2. Lean in to listen!

Deep listening is one of the best gifts we can give to our friends and family. The goal of true listening is to make another person feel heard and seen. Take care not to interrupt or allow distractions to interfere with your time together. The more you make heartfelt curiosity a part of your daily routine, the more you’ll learn about your loved ones and the stronger your connections will be!

Action item: Make time and space for mindful listening. Set aside all other tasks, make eye contact, and listen respectfully, deeply, and quietly. Listen with your heart wide open!

3. Touch to connect and heal!

We are wired to desire connection. No matter how young or old we are, we benefit from being touched in loving, respectful ways. However, when life gets busy, it can be easy to forget the importance of pausing to hold a loved one’s hand or offer a gentle hug. Touch can be incredibly affirming and healing. Caring touch increases our sense of connection and safety due to an increase in feel-good neurochemicals!

Action item: Pause to notice when a child, partner, family member, or friend could benefit from a hug, pat on the back, or another respectful form of touch. If distance or health issues are at work, you can offer connective energy simply by saying, “I wish I could hug you and sit with you right now!”

4. Foster daily appreciation!

When life gets busy and stressful, we often tend to notice when things are going “wrong” rather than all the things that are going quite well. A dose of appreciation is a healthy antidote to this common pitfall. Appreciation tends to foster joy and connection, so don’t underestimate the power of being grateful for all that you have—including your loved ones and friends. In fact, one of the greatest gifts you can offer to yourself and others is your heartfelt appreciation. Daily gratitude practices are a win-win because they boost inner joy and connection.

Action item: Strive to take a few minutes every morning and evening (and even throughout the day) to offer loving words of appreciation to yourself, your loved ones, and all that life offers!

5. Increase connection through play!

The relationship-boosting power of laughter, fun, and play is tremendous! When a playful mindset is at work, you’ll find that fun is awaiting you around every corner. Even mundane tasks become a delight when you and your loved ones embrace the connective power of play.

Action item: No matter how busy your schedule, carve out a bit of time every day to play with your partner, family, or friends. Whether you play cards for a half hour, laugh as you make a game of folding laundry, or take a fun-filled stroll through town, remember that fun can be found in some of the most ordinary places.

The ultimate gift.

The true beauty of these practices is in their evergreen quality; each tip is an enduring gift to you, your loved ones, and your friends. By embracing these mindful tips with joy, your heart will be filled with loving, connective energy all year long.

And, if you’re looking for more ways to connect, give yourself and your loved ones a copy of one of my joy-building books!

Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships & Love Fearlessly. This is a perfect read for those dating (or not) who desire to build joy-filled, connected relationships.

Aging Joyfully: A Woman’s Guide to Optimal Health, Relationships, and Fulfillment for her 50s and Beyond. This love-filled book is perfect for any woman seeking greater internal and external fulfillment!

Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend. This joyful book is the perfect guide for understanding and healing from anxiety, stress, trauma, and depression!

Dr. Carla Marie Manly is a clinical psychologist and wellness expert based in Sonoma County, California. In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Manly is deeply invested in her roles as an author, consultant, advocate, and speaker. With a holistic, body-mind-spirit approach, she specializes in improving professional and personal relationships through mindfulness and healthy communication skills. Viewing self-development as the foundation for optimal wellness, Dr. Manly’s work focuses on building health intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships through increased self-awareness. Her work blends traditional psychotherapy with alternative mindfulness practices to support inner freedom, awareness, and balance. Dr. Manly’s latest book, Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly, joins her other highly acclaimed titles, Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend, and Aging Joyfully. Dr. Manly also contributes her expertise publicly as a speaker and through top-notch media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, Oprah, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, Psychology Today, Parade, GQ, Women’s Health, Architectural Digest, Men’s Health, and more.

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