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10 Reasons Why Your Cousins Are Your Best Friends

10 Reasons Why Your Cousins Are Your Best Friends

Growing up, I was good friends with pretty much all of my first cousins, as well as a handful of my second cousins. What makes a cousin a good friend? Well, to put it simply, they are like siblings who you only have to see on holidays and special events, which of course means that you’re never around them enough to get mad at them (we all know how contentious things can get with a brother or sister, no matter how much we love them)! Or to put it in even simpler terms, cousins are like your good friends from school or work, with the only difference being that you share the same blood. Which means that, no matter how different you and your cousin are, you always have something that ties you together. But beyond all of that, what are some of the concrete reasons as to why we grow close to our cousins in the first place? Read on!

1. They make family gatherings enjoyable.

As much as we all love eating our Grandmother’s cooking and deflecting questions from various Aunts and Uncles, what we really enjoy about seeing family is getting to catch up with our cousins. Whether it’s joking about a random subject you came up with, or playing some game on the side, your cousin is always there to help you pass the time.

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2. You have a long history with them.

This one is very important. Most of us don’t see our cousins on a consistent basis; a product of becoming an adult I suppose. That said, we always have something to talk about regardless of how long it has been since we last saw them. Indeed, I have memories with most of my cousins that date back to when I was 4 or 5 years old, and thus, when in doubt, we can always talk about those past adventures!

3. They don’t pry.

While your Aunt and Uncle might feel the need to ask you about your future, your current job, and your hypothetical girlfriend, your cousins know to stay away from topics that make you uncomfortable. That’s what is great about cousins. You know them well enough to be able to spend a lot of time with them, but not enough to feel obligated to pry into every aspect of their lives.

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4. They teach you about the opposite gender.

For the majority of the time that I was in school, all of my friends were guys, and so by having several female cousins I really got to see what the other side was all about. I like to think that this has made me a well-balanced individual!

5. There is no uncomfortable silence.

Ever been in a long road trip with an acquaintance? It is absolutely unbearable. When you’re with a cousin, you can either talk a lot or a little, and nobody will ask questions or get uncomfortable either way.

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6. You share the same inside jokes.

Yeah, so you thought you were the only one who joked about Uncle John’s funny laugh, or Grandma Jane’s “interesting” sense of style? Wrong! Your cousin likely already thought of the same things. The sooner you both come to that realization, the sooner you can start laughing at your shared observations.

7. They know about your embarrassing moments.

I can’t tell you how many times my cousins poke fun at me for some of my youthful foibles (hint: too many to count). That said, calling out each other’s ridiculous childhood moments only brings you closer together. No matter how serious and adult-like you and your cousins become, you can always bring each other back down to earth with a little lighthearted jab…

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8. They never abandon you.

While your friends might grow distant to the point that they stop hanging out with you, your cousins will never leave you behind. They’ll be with you for the long haul, always there to save you from awkward conversations and other miserable familial situations when you need them.

9. You can talk about the future with them.

You know that moment when you are at a family party and you and the other young people are at one table, and the older people are at another? Of course you do. During those moments, there’s always one cousin who turns to you, points at the other table, and says, “wow, that’s going to be us in twenty years!” It’s at that point that you realize how intertwined your futures are. To me at least, that’s a pretty cool thing to think about.

10. You don’t have to impress them.

When you’re with cousins, you get to be buddies with them without the added social pressure that comes with hanging out with non-family members. That means you can forgo the makeup, pause your kale-based diet, leave your face unshaven, and forget about having to do anything fancy with your hair. Let it all go! With your cousin, all that matters is your presence. And if that doesn’t signify true friendship, I don’t know what does! Are you best friends with your cousins? Share your stories in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Laughter/ Becca Peterson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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