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Nov 28, 2023

The holiday season traditionally beckons gatherings with loved ones, friends, and family, often involving travel to reunite with those we haven't seen in a while. While these occasions can be overwhelmingly positive, the nuances of family and relationship dynamics often introduce challenges.

In this episode, we delve into the common tendencies of complaining, comparing, and criticizing, which can disrupt the joyous spirit of gatherings. We delve into insightful strategies to pivot away from these unproductive habits, offering practical solutions for a more positive and enriching experience. By exploring the three P's—pride, pleasure, and purpose—listeners are guided on a journey toward fostering deeper connections during festive occasions, enhancing the quality of interactions with loved ones, and ultimately cultivating a path to greater happiness.

 Check out the transcript of this episode on Dr. Jessica Higgin's website.

In this episode

5:29 The impact of holiday gatherings on our mental tendencies.

9:18 Negative thought patterns and their impact on relationships.

15:52 Applying Gottman’s 5:1 ratio to strengthen connections in every relationship.

23:34 The impact of negative behaviors on relationships.

32:09 Cultivating happiness through connection and purpose.

Unpacking the Three C's

First, let's clarify the three C's to avoid.

1. Comparing

We often find ourselves anticipating comparisons, preparing to evaluate and rank ourselves, and engaging in a subtle one-up/one-down competition.

Measures of Success:

  • Career Achievements (promotions)

  • Health and Fitness (body weight)

  • Financial Status

  • Attractiveness and Beauty (aging, wrinkles, clothing, hair)

  • Knowledge (current events, politics)

  • Social Engagements (events attended, people met)

  • Fun (recreational activities, trips, etc.)

All these aspects contribute to an individual's sense of meaning, purpose, and pride. However, when the intention is to impress or compete to feel superior, it can lead to putting oneself above others, inadvertently diminishing their value.

Antidote: Practice expressing appreciation and gratitude for oneself, aiming for a list of 10 appreciations as a countermeasure.

2. Complaining

Expressing challenges is a natural way to seek attention and understanding, often as an attempt to bond with others who can relate to hardships. However, dwelling on difficulties, akin to sharing war stories, provides limited satisfaction in connecting.

Antidote: Counteracting complaints involves identifying at least 10 positive aspects overlooked in the situation, fostering a more optimistic perspective.

3. Criticizing

Judging someone's behavior, especially in family or friendship dynamics, can stem from underlying longings, needs, or vulnerabilities, with limited potential for change compared to romantic relationships.

Antidote: If change seems unlikely, self-support involves addressing personal needs and longings through alternative means or advocating for oneself, including setting boundaries. Additionally, acknowledging 10 positive qualities or attributes the person brings to your life can help shift the focus away from criticism.

The Negative Effects of the 3 C’s

  • Diminished Self-Esteem: Engaging in constant comparison and criticism can lead to feelings of inadequacy, lower self-worth, and diminished self-esteem.

  • Strained Relationships: Continuous criticism and complaining can put strain on relationships, eroding trust, creating tension, and reducing the overall sense of safety and satisfaction.

  • Dissatisfaction in Interactions: The repetitive nature of the 3 C's can leave interactions feeling less meaningful and satisfying, contributing to a sense of dissatisfaction.

  • Avoidance and Disconnection: Over time, the cumulative effect of the 3 C's may lead to avoidance of certain individuals or a decrease in engagement, negatively impacting the connection in relationships.

  • Missed Opportunities for Growth: Focusing on the negative aspects may lead to missed opportunities for personal and relational growth, hindering the exploration of positive and enriching experiences.

  • Draining Interactions: Engaging in the 3 C's can be emotionally draining, both for oneself and others, as the emphasis on negativity outweighs the potential for positive and uplifting interactions.

  • Empowerment and Blame Cycle: The cycle of blame, competition, and one-upmanship perpetuated by the 3 C's can create a disempowered mindset, hindering the celebration of others and fostering deeper connections.

  • Lack of Meaning and Significance: Constant comparison and criticism may lead to a focus on surface-level attributes, overshadowing the potential for deeper connections and the meaningful aspects of relationships.

The 3 P’s of Happiness

Now that we've explored the challenges posed by the three C's, let's shift our focus to the transformative power of the three P's.

The concept of the three P's — Pride, Purpose, and Pleasure — draws inspiration from Blue Zone research, examining communities globally recognized for longevity and well-being. Here are actionable strategies aligned with the three P's to foster a balanced and fulfilling life:

1. Pride:

  • Build Community Bonds: Connect with your community, nurturing positive relationships for a heightened sense of belonging and pride.

  • Embrace Traditions: Celebrate cultural or community traditions to strengthen your connection to heritage and foster pride.

  • Achieve Personal Goals: Pursue goals aligned with your values, cultivating a sense of pride and satisfaction.

  • Share Your Successes: Acknowledge and share your accomplishments, reinforcing a positive sense of pride.

2. Purpose:

  • Discover Your Ikigai: Explore your 'ikigai,' finding purpose at the intersection of passion, skill, societal need, and earning potential.

  • Volunteer and Give Back: Contribute to causes aligned with your values, experiencing purpose through meaningful engagement.

  • Set Long-Term Goals: Establish enduring goals reflecting your passions and values for a sense of purpose.

  • Reflect on Core Values: Regularly align actions with core values, providing direction and purpose in life.

3. Pleasure:

  • Prioritize Social Bonds: Cultivate meaningful relationships with friends and family, crucial for overall happiness.

  • Opt for Balanced Nutrition: Enjoy a varied, nutritious diet in moderation for physical and mental well-being.

  • Incorporate Physical Activity: Integrate joyful exercises like walking or dancing into daily routines.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Dedicate time to mindfulness practices, enhancing the enjoyment of the present moment.

  • Embrace Nature: Spend time outdoors, connecting with nature for increased pleasure and well-being.

  • Cultivate Hobbies: Engage in passion-driven activities, such as art or gardening, for a more pleasurable life.

By integrating these strategies, you can elevate your overall well-being, embracing the principles of Pride, Purpose, and Pleasure observed in Blue Zone communities. 


The Magic Ratio: The Key to Relationship Satisfaction

Blue Zones of Happiness, The: Lessons From the World's Happiest People (The Blue Zones) (*Amazon affiliate link) (book)

25 Days To Strengthening Your Love Through Kindness (free guide link)

ERP 125: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love (podcast episode)

ERP 128: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Two (podcast episode)

ERP 129: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Three (podcast episode)

ERP 130: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Four (podcast episode)

ERP 130: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Five (podcast episode)

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins






Twitter: @DrJessHiggins



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