6. Psychological healthy habits that lead to better socialising
1. Acceptance or Respecting The Differences
Acceptance in human psychology is a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. (Jefferson M. Fish, 2014)
In psychology, acceptance means “taking a stance of non-judgmental awareness and actively embracing the experience of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they occur” (Hayes et al., 2004).
Experts suggest that acceptance is the healthier option. For example, Tara Brach writes, “believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering” (2004). Your experience of yourself consists largely of your emotions, thoughts, and actions, and so learning to accept these (even when they seem difficult or undesirable) is a helpful tool for well-being.
Remember, acceptance is not the same as resignation. Acceptance refers to acknowledging and allowing your present experience—not necessarily your life situation. Through awareness and practice, you have the ability to increase acceptance in your own life and enjoy the benefits that it may bring.
When anthropologist turned psychologist Joseph Henrich began his research into cultural diversity, he became aware that Western populations were often unusual compared to others. He also warns us of the risks of psychological bias toward WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) populations. We could be ignoring the psychological differences between peoples and wrongly assuming psychological patterns hold cross-culturally (Henrich, 2020).
As Henrich (2020) says, we should celebrate human diversity (psychological or otherwise), while noting that none of the psychological differences identified between cultures suggest one is better than the other or is immutable. Instead, human “psychology has changed over history and will continue to evolve” (Henrich, 2020).
Cohen, Wu, and Miller (2016) suggest “that a greater attention to both Western and Eastern religions in cross-cultural psychology can be illuminating regarding religion and culture” and insightful regarding how national cultures interact.
Collectivist cultures encourage people to develop interdependent selves, connected in meaningful ways to those around them. By contrast, in individualistic cultures, people think of themselves “as relatively distinct from close others” (Cohen et al., 2016).
Furthermore, some religions are collectivistic, focusing on tradition and community-based religious practice, while others are individualistic, expressing personal faith and one’s relationship with God.
2. Understanding of Expectations
Human beings have a natural tendency to pin their hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, as long as we have good reasons to believe that fulfilling an expectation will make us happy, and we take the necessary steps toward fulfilling those expectations. "Good reasons" might include us knowing from past experience that certain things make us happy.
The problem of expectation occurs when we expect something to happen without good reasons for that expectation. If I believe that my expectations alone will bring me what I want, I am using magical thinking and setting myself up for disappointment.(John A. Johnson, Ph.D., 2018)
My research on moral psychology tells me that expectations among people are often based on an implicit social contract. That is, without actually verbalizing expectations about give-and-take in a relationship, people construct stories in their heads about legitimate expectations of each other. So, people in a relationship have a "deal" in which the specifics of the deal are never really talked about. It is hard for someone to live up to your expectations when they don't know what they are, but you still might see this failure as a violation of your social contract.(John A. Johnson, Ph.D., 2018)
Unspoken expectations are almost guaranteed to go unfulfilled. Talking openly about what you expect from other people might improve your chances of fulfilment.
In sum, Do not keep silent expectations from people around you, express your expectations in a friendly manner rather than keeping toxic thoughts in mind for not getting back from your surroundings. At the same time it is important to understand and prioritise expectations of your people, recognising the differences is a key.
3. Avoiding Criticism or To Be Toxic
Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticized. Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded. Yet, we are left with a paradox. On the one hand criticism is ineffective, if not harmful.
Some people criticize for unconstructive purposes. They seek not to improve but to raise their own self-respect at the expense of another. By finding fault or lashing out in anger at imperfections, they strive to establish their own dominance or superiority. I have even attended professional conferences where people criticized other professionals by pointing out petty errors in their reasoning or analysis for no reason but to look good. Criticism for these purposes is never constructive, guaranteed to do more harm than good to both recipient and sender.(Steven Stosny, Ph.D., 2014)
4. Celebrating Others Success
“In the joy of others lies our own,
In the progress of others rests our own,
In the good of others abides our own,
Know this to be the key to peace and happiness”
― Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS
Are You Jealous of Other People’s Success?
It’s essential to be careful about how harshly you judge other people and their paths to success. The more judgmental you are about them and how they create their success, the more difficult you’ll make it for you to create the success you want, out of your fear of being judged.
Judging the success of others is a smokescreen. It masks our own inability to deal with feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or inferiority. What if, instead of doing that (or anything else in a similarly negative, critical, or arrogant way), we celebrated their success and rejoiced in it?
When you see someone succeed, celebrate for them (knowing how exciting it can be when something good happens).(Mike Robinse, Authore,2018)
Women also rate success more highly when it has also contributed to the achievements of others. During the last two years, a sense of community has become even more crucial, so if you’re struggling to celebrate success for your own sake, you could try doing it for those around you. This will breed positivity and cultivate an environment where we all feel valued and appreciated.
Irini agrees: “I realised that rejecting my success meant I was not acknowledging the work of many others who played a role in my performance. These days instead of rushing to push it away, I embrace praise on behalf of myself and of everyone who has been part of my journey. Success is a great privilege that can make a positive difference to so many, and it is a great gift for which we and others have worked very hard, so it deserves to be treasured.”
Feeling jealous of other people’s success is both understandable and potentially damaging.
5. Expressing Feelings Effectively
We are wired to have feelings. If we express these feelings in off-putting ways, this wiring can invite a disconnect in our relationships. By contrast, expressing feelings in a safe way can lead to our feeling more connected, especially to loved ones. Knowing how to express feelings tactfully is therefore vital if you want to feel close to people and to sustain your relationships.
Sharing positive feelings solidifies relationships. Love, appreciation, gratitude, delight—sharing these feelings builds affectionate bonds.
At the same time, stresses occur in everyone's life, leaving them with sad, scared, or angry feelings. In addition, differences and hurt feelings will occur from time to time between just about any two people who interact regularly. Sharing feelings enables you to talk through the situation that had caused the difficulty. That way, you can figure out how the problem occurred and what to do to fix it. Problem-solving together makes negative feelings lift. Otherwise, the problem may linger or get worse, negative feelings may fester, and both you and your relationship suffer.(Susan Heitler, Ph.D., 2013)
References and further reading:
Jefferson M Fish Ph.D. | Psychology Today
What Is Cross-Cultural Psychology? 11 Theories & Examples (positivepsychology.com)
How to Practice Acceptance | Psychology Today
The Psychology of Expectations | Psychology TodayCriticism and its Negative Effects (karrass.com)
What's Wrong with Criticism | Psychology Today
Are You Threatened By Other People’s Success? (mike-robbins.com)
How to celebrate success | Psychologies
How to Express Feelings... and How Not To | Psychology Today