Way # 3 – INCLUDE EVERYONE (It’s a big boat)
According to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, our relationships don’t end with family, friends, and acquaintances. If you’ve watched any of the Cosmos series, you may have learned that we are actually connected, through our DNA, to everyone who has ever lived on the planet.
Now maybe that’s too far to stretch our social contacts, but it makes the point that as humans (and animals) we’re hardwired for connection – we need it, we seek it, and we don’t do well if we don’t get enough of it.
Quantum physics demonstrates that human beings share the same energy, which we can notice in the midst of our personal interactions.
If I’m paying attention (being mindfully aware) I experience that your feelings affect me, and vice versa.
We influence each other energetically – whether we’re feeling neutral, up beat, or depressed, for example. Our ability to sense this is called empathy, and we can train ourselves to get better at it. But why would we want to do that?
It turns out that the nature of our hard-wired connection with each other is primarily benevolent – we have an inbred desire to help one another. Perhaps this is a survival strategy of the species, maybe an expression of our underlying nature, shared with other animals, that we are primarily motivated to connect with, and act compassionately, toward our own.
Remember the Liberty Mutual TV commercials that showed a person witness a good deed, and then they were motivated to help someone else? Those were heart-warming and inspiring. There’ve also been times I didn’t act on the opportunity to reach out and then later felt regret.
This suggests to me that we actually do have a relationship to everyone else, including complete strangers, and that it matters to my happiness what the quality of that relationship is, even if I ignore it. And so much the more for people I already know.
A Harvard University study that followed the lives of 268 students for more than 70 years concluded that in terms of happiness, positive relationships with others were one of the most important factors. It turns out that the quality of our lives is reflected in the quality of our relationships!
What makes for a good relationship, and what can we do to make ours better?
Good communication is key, and a well-known quote highlights how difficult this can be –
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!”
Learning to ‘listen clearly’ is as important as speaking clearly, and we can also help prevent misunderstandings by asking the right questions instead of making assumptions. ‘Active Listening’ and other communication skills can be learned in ‘Be Happy & Well’ – a new class starting Weds., Feb 7 at Santa Cruz Dominican Hospital that includes proven practices for greater happiness, health, and wellness. Sign up here.
Learn how to bring more warmth and trust to your relationships, including the one you have with yourself! We all know what it’s like to live with a relentlessly negative voice in our head, but fortunately there are effective ways to bring more mindfulness, compassion and understanding into all our relationships.
Even good relationships go through stressful times, and learning a simple mindfulness practice can help us recenter, stay calm, and remain positive when we feel ourselves closing down or becoming fearful. Having the tools we need to navigate the waters of life can help transform relationships from problematic to positive – and add to our experience of happiness!