Never take your relationships for granted–whether at home, at work, or with family or friends. Your happiness depends on them. You might think that fight from last night is over, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it ruined the next day (or possibly the whole week).

Relationships are one of the top causes of stress. The positive effects of peaceful interactions are pure bliss. However, the disagreements, conflicts, and harbored resentments can knock you down and keep you there. Your body gets out of sync when stress takes it hostage.

Follow these 9 simple steps to improve all of your relationships starting today:

1. Watch your words.

The old saying “think before you speak” still holds true. Your impulsive multi-tasking ways have caused your thoughts and words to jump out unexpectedly. Slow down and ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”

2. Respect differences and opinions.

Every person thinks his or her opinion is important. Instead of jumping in with “No! I disagree. You’re wrong.” take a minute to realize the other person thinks it’s valuable. Try to respect what someone else is saying, even if you disagree with it.

3. Look for the positive hiding behind the negative.

Each character trait has a positive and negative side to it. Your structured and organized girlfriend plans an awesome summer vacation, but can be a real pain when she wants the refrigerator kept in order like a filing cabinet. If you are a disorganized and creative person, and your partner is structured and organized, don’t expect hime or her to change, simply look to see how those traits make your life easier.

4. Pick your battles.

Every disagreement does not have to become an argument. Silence has gotten a bad rap lately. Speaking up and standing for what you believe in are important actions to take, but sometimes they seep into other areas of relationships and cause damage. Is this really worth a fight? If the answer is yes, wait until the negative emotions subside before you sit down and talk it out respectfully. Silence is truly golden when it stops a ridiculous argument from ruining your relationship. Some disagreements are just a waste of hurtful words.

5. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Things are not often as they appear. You jump to conclusions without thinking about the other side of the story. We don’t go around telling around everyone our deep, dark secrets. Sometimes relationships are guessing games. We don’t always get to see what’s going on inside someone’s head. When you give someone the benefit of the doubt, and judge him or her on the brighter side rather than the darker side, you can see the bigger picture. There’s usually more to most situations.

6. Practice compassion.

Everyone has his or her own personal history, dramas, and character traits. I can’t be you for five minutes and you can’t be me. Let people have their own past, as long as it’s not destructive to your life.

7. Give compliments.

This is the simplest and quickest way to change a person’s mood or attitude. A compliment says a lot. Notice how you feel the next time someone compliments you. It’s an instant mood lifter.

8. Say thank you.

Practice gratitude. These two words carry a lot of power. Thank you says, “I appreciate you.” Gratitude benefits the one who delivers it, as well as the one who receives it. If you see something worth appreciating, it means that you see the good. Grateful people are happy; complainers are unhappy. Gratitude washes away negativity.

9. Value people.

People are precious. Negative reactions cause emotional amnesia. When you are angry or hurt, you forget all the wonderful things someone did for you in the past. You forgot when they gave you a shoulder to cry on, or came over at 3 a.m. when you didn’t want to be alone.

Once you realize how easy it is, you can make these simple steps a new habit. Just like going to the gym every day keeps your body healthy, strong, and rock hard, strengthening your relationships can also become a daily habit.

Changing your perspective immediately improves the relationship. Your happiness depends on it.

Featured photo credit: Detailed view of a young couple holding hands/Peter Bernik via shutterstock.com

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