“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Last week, we wrapped up Pillar #7 of “The Year of the Best You” – Embrace Your Creativity. Today, we will start on Pillar #8 – Connect With Others. As before, we will discuss this pillar a bit more below, provide a printable PDF worksheet for the month and then recap how we made out on August 27th.
I strategically placed the pillar on relationships in August as it the month that my husband Colin and I celebrate our 21st anniversary, and as well, my parents will celebrate their 52nd anniversary! I have been blessed with a lot of love in my life and recognize that above all, interpersonal connections are the foundation of a good life.
As part of the world’s longest study of adult life, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, scientists started tracking the health of Harvard sophmores in 1938 during the Great Depression to uncover the recipe for a healthy, happy life. Now, into its second generation, what they have found is as follows – “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
Last year, I was fortunate to be involved in putting together an e-book for the Physician and Family Support Program of the Alberta Medical Association aimed at addressing physician relationships with spouse, colleagues and self. Part of this was born out of the impact spousal relationships have on physicians which in turn have an impact on other aspects of a physician’s life such as work. Using marriage as a general term for a long-term intimate relationship, the e-book outlines the many benefits of marriage including improved health and longevity, improved cancer survival and an overall increase in happiness.
It all comes down to love
Love can be frightening if you have been hurt by betrayal, suffered a loss or it has not be reciprocated, however, most of us would agree that the benefits of opening our heart far outweigh the risks. We can love in so many ways, from loving family and friends, to animals and even to people online that we have never met. At the root of it all is the connection we feel toward others.
As Bronnie Ware says, well known for her book The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying – “It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.”
Some ways to connect
What holds us back from connecting with others? Is it being seen fully and feeling vulnerable? Is it insecurity and fear of rejection? In any event, as Brené Brown says in her book The Gifts of Imperfection – “Love will never be certain, but after collecting thousands of stories, I’m willing to call this a fact: A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all men, women, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong.
So, in order to connect with others, we need to embrace:
Relationships are a significant topic to cover and we have only touched on a few points. This month’s worksheet will allow you to further explore the impacts of relationships in your own life – past, present and future – from a place of gratitude. Please print off the worksheet to join in this month’s activity. I will do the same and we will recap on August 27th.
TED Talk Dr. Robert Waldinger – What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness
The Gottman Institute – Products for Couples