"Trust is a prerequisite for happiness...
Several studies, in fact, have found that trust
-- more than income or even health --
is the biggest factor in determining our happiness."
Trust. Now there's a word I'm suspicious of. For as long as I can remember, I've had issues with trusting other people. I always thought that trusting others was a completely naive and idiotic thing to do. If I kept myself from trusting others, I could separate myself from them. I could avoid being hurt. Keep yourself separated to avoid the potential pain of separation, I subconsciously believed. Like a lot of people, my trust (when I've reluctantly placed it in someone else) has been broken from time to time. What little trust I've allowed myself to have in other people has been destroyed on occasion (not the best thing for someone who has trouble trusting to begin with!). But, this isn't about my trust issues (let's save that for my therapy session this afternoon, shall we?). This post is about how trust relates to happiness.
Right now I'm about half way through The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World and I am in happiness research heaven. I've highlighted nearly the entire book in my Kindle, thinking to myself, "Oh, this would make a great post!" or "What a great thought!" or "Oh, that is sotrue!" One of the best topics I've come across -- the one that hits closest to home with me -- is the idea of trust and how it relates to happiness. I recently came across the quote above in Weiner's book and it was really interesting to me. Do we need to be able to trust to have happiness? Is an absolute requirement? Of course, I started doing a little research of my own and found a lot of things that confirmed the idea that trust is really necessarily in relation to being happy. For example, check out this quote by Walter Anderson:
"We're never so vulnerable as when we trust someone
but, paradoxically, if we cannot trust
neither can we find love or joy."
Do you agree with that? I believe that I do. I can't imagine anything more vulnerable than trusting another person, but I also know that I've never experienced true, intense love without having trust for that person. When I am with people I trust -- family members, close friends, etc. -- I am much more relaxed and, therefore, joyful than I am when I am around people who I distrust or do not know (and, yes, I typically don't trust someone until that person has earned my trust). I am definitely happier when I feel as if I can trust someone...and isn't that the case for all of us?
I decided to take a little trip over to one of my favorite research site, Wikipedia, and take a look at what it means to be trustworthy. According to the site, "Trustworthiness is a moral value considered to be a virtue. A trustworthy person is someone in whom we can place our trust and rest assured that the trust will not be betrayed. A person can prove his trustworthiness by fulfilling an assigned responsibility - and as an extension of that, to not let down our expectations. The responsibility can be either material, such as delivering a mail package on time, or it can be a non-material such as keeping an important secret to himself. A trustworthy person is someone that we can put our worries and secrets into and know they won't come out. In order for one to trust another, their worth and integrity must be constantly proven over time." Hmm...Interesting. Gotta love Wikipedia's ability to restate the same thing in a number of different ways. While I think it's important to understand what trustworthiness is and why it's important, I think it's even more important to understand how to build and create trust, both in ourselves and with others.
First and foremost I think it's essential that you trust yourself. If you don't trust yourself, how can you trust someone else? (Same goes for loving yourself.) I'll admit that it's not always the easiest thing in the world to trust yourself. After all, we betray ourselves all the time. We let ourselves down. We do things that hurt ourselves and make living a little bit harder for ourselves. But, in spite of all of the negative things that happen, the accidents, and the regrets, we have to believe that we are deserving of our own trust. We have to embrace trustworthiness as both something we want others to see in us and something that we see in ourselves. Trust yourself, trust others (up to a point), and be trustworthy. I think if we do these three things we'll find that we're a lot happier.
How To Trust Yourself
Love who you are right now. You know it and I know it. Loving yourself is important. You really need to do it in order to trust yourself. You have to believe that you are worthy of love before you can really believe you are worthy of trust. Loving yourself isn't easy, but it really is one of the most important things you can do in order to begin trusting others.
Think of what you've accomplished. You've done a lot in your life. You may not think about it often, but you really have. You've gone to school or held down a job or started a family or written a book. In some capacity, you've believed in yourself enough to stick with these tasks. Remember that when you're hesitant to trust yourself.
Remember the daily tasks. This morning I was driving along and realized that I was a lot closer to my destination than I'd realized. I was not thinking about driving because I trust myself. I trusted that I knew where I was going, that I was in control of the car. Think about all of the things you trust yourself to do every day.
Believe you are as awesome as you are. You, me, all of us -- we are awesome. In our own, unique, individual ways, we have something to offer the world. Believe that. Believe that you are a stellar person and that you deserve not only to be trusted by others, but to be trusted by yourself.
Open yourself up to you. Spend some time getting to know yourself and what it is you really want from your life. The more you know about someone else, the more you feel you can trust him or her, right? Same goes for you. The more you know about you, the more you'll be able to trust your own abilities.
How To Trust Others
Trust yourself first. See the section above for more about this, but know that this is really important when it comes to trusting others. You need to trust yourself or you will never believe that someone else is deserving of your trust. You deserve to be trusted and no one can trust you more than you can trust yourself.
Don't judge one person by another's actions. This is hard. If you've been hurt by a friend, it's hard not to think that a new friend will do the same thing to you. But it's important to realize that everyone is different. Don't judge someone by the actions of someone else. That's just not fair.
Give people a little bit of credit. I'm not saying you need to 100% trust every soul you meet but, when you first meet someone, it's probably a good idea to give him or her a little bit of credit. Don't assume the worst. Give others the benefit of the doubt before you place judgments.
Look for the good in everything. If you're looking for the good, the positive, in the world, you'll be more likely to see the good in people too. Focus on what's good about situations, people, places, etc., and you'll be a lot more likely to see the good in others (and, therefore, be more likely to trust them).
Accept your differences. Some people might look down when speaking to your or raise their eyes to the ceiling. It may seem to you that this person isn't trustworthy. Of course, ALWAYS trust your instincts, but give some thought to what is making you judge someone else.
How To Be Trustworthy
Be open and honest -- always. This is tricky because it's not always easy to be open with other people (God knows I have trouble with it!) and it's often pretty difficult to be honest too. Believe me though -- people would rather hear your honest words that a whole lot of BS so tell the truth.
Embrace compassion for others. When you do your best to relate to others, to try to understand them and relate to them, you're more likely to build up trust. People want to trust those who are compassionate so embrace the idea of having genuine compassion for those in your life.
Do what you say you will do. Nothing could be more important than this in the trust-building arena. It's so, so, so important to do what you say you will. Give your word and keep it. If you say you will go, go. If you say you will do, do. Being reliable is one of the best ways to show your trustworthiness.
Never gossip or share secrets. Sounds obvious, right? But it's not always that easy not to share a juicy piece of gossip with someone who you know will never even meet the person you're talking about. Don't gossip about anyone. Ever. It's difficult, but there are better things to talk about than other people.
Don't take advantage of people. People are not meant to be used. They are meant to be loved and cherished and celebrated. Don't use other people to benefit yourself. It almost always bites you in the ass and it's an absolutely horrible way to prove you are worthy of trust.
Trust is a complex topic and I'm sure tons and tons of awesome and enlightening posts have been written about it. I came across a few great articles on my trust-seeking travels, but one in particular was really great. If you want to read more about trust, I would definitely advise checking out this article "Building Trust"on LiveStrong.com. Check it out!
Do you think there is a link between happiness and trust?
How trusting of other people are you ?
Do you trust yourself?