Living is relating, and happiness is found in good relationships
Inspired & Blessed

Living is relating, and happiness is found in good relationships

Nov 22, 2023, 1:23 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo

Columnist

In one structured learning experience (SLE) activity, dubbed “Relating and Mirroring”, that we used to give in our training workshops, we ask participants to share two experiential points: a) one relationship they consider very important and will try to stick whatever it takes; b) one relationship deeply affecting them which they would want ended but they’re unable to escape from.

After some minutes of group sharing, we process the participants with some post-SLE questions that would evoke their feelings, insights, or realizations (as a means of catharsis of some sort for them).

Then out of their insights and realizations, we finally integrate the learnings into the following points:

1. Living is relating (Nobody is an island) and life is all about relationships.

2. Relating means investing one’s SELF in the other so that the latter will do the same, resulting to mutually uplifting and strengthening states of being. The basis is TRUST.

3. In contrast, competing is based on some kind of FEAR (rejection, loss of status or prestige, etc.). Here, one tries to outdo the other always in ways that is mutually destructive and weakening.

4. All relationships we’re in are mainly our own doing and “mirrors” of our relationship with our SELF.

5. To have a meaningful relationship you must start with yourself – e.g. show yourself respect (instead of striving to impress) so that you can also have true respect for and from someone else.

Now, as suggested by this piece’s title, these profound learning points cadged from our SLE workshop bring home our core message: Good relationships keep us happier, and even healthier.

This treasure-trove of truth has been proven right by the world’s longest scientific study of happiness (spanning over 80 years starting in 1938 with 724 participants, and which now includes 1,300 descendants of the original participants).

The research study is contained in a book, “The Good Life: Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study Of Happiness” (2022), authored by Robert Waldinger, M.D. and Marc Shulz, Ph.D.

The authors wondered what measures would predict happiness and health. They found out that satisfaction in relationships was the best predictor of a happier, or healthier, life.

Whilst, it may be asked: What about those who’ve been badly hurt, or even traumatized, by distressing relationships?

Susan M. Pollak, M.T.S., Ed.D., in her article, “What Is It That Makes Us Happy?”, posted on psychologytoday.com offers three ways of coping, namely: 1) Practicing curiosity by being genuinely interested in other people; 2) “Catching” or noticing other people who are behaving well, and not only those who are behaving badly; 3) Opening up and accepting (read: understanding) without passing judgment, others for who they are, idiosyncrasies included.

On a similar vein, in another SLE (structured learning experience) workshop we have in our trainings, “Interfacing”, we let participants by two’s or dyads share in round-robin fashion two important points: 1) one thing I like most about you; 2) one thing I don’t like most about you.

As post-SLE processing, we recapitulate the following learning points:

1. As conflicts are inevitable or a fact of life in any relationship, they should be welcomed but not courted.

2. Having different points of view should not lead to a judgment of right and wrong, or right and more right. It should be deemed as a challenge to seek for the missing link that will reconcile differences, which results to new knowledge.

3. Differently stated, conflict is a challenge to understand the other’s point of view. “Agree to disagree so that no one loses, both parties win.”

In sum, let me encapsulate the following points.

One, life is relating. We did not come into this world alone, and neither it is possible to us to live through life completely alone. “No man is an island,” so the song goes.

Two, good relationships (not “possessions or positions”) are a necessary wellspring of happiness, and even of healthier and longer life.

Three, as conflicts are inevitable or a fact of life, difficult relationships should be taken as mirrors of our SELF (“What is it about or in me that is making the relationship impossible?”) – in order to pave the path for reflexive understanding or compassion, towards a deeper and meaningful relationship.

#InspiredAndBlessed #BobAcebedo #RelatingAndMirroring #GoodRelationships #TheGoodLife #RobertWaldinger #MarcShulz #SusanPollak #WhatIsItThatMakesUsHappy #OpinYonColumn #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand


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