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Relationship Assessment: Build Meaningful Connections One Encounter at a Time

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Did you know that 1 in 4 people don’t feel close enough to another person to talk about a personal problem?

The Washington Post published a recent article entitled Loneliness Grows from Individual Ache to Public Health Hazard, which chronicles the severity of loneliness in the United States.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Cole and his colleagues at the UCLA School of Medicine, along with collaborators at the University of California at Davis and the University of Chicago, uncovered complex immune system responses at work in lonely people. They found that social isolation turned up the activity of genes responsible for inflammation and turned down the activity of genes that produce antibodies to fight infection.

Many of  you know that social connection is a cornerstone of a happy, healthy life. If you were to pause and look back over the course of your life, you’d probably see that some of your happiest moments have been experienced in others’ company.

On the flip side, as much as you know about the importance of relationships, it’s easy to forget in the frenzy of daily life about connecting in a way that brings out the best in each other. Taking time to reflect on your relational health gives you a chance to look honestly at how your relationships are faring, and where appropriate, bring greater intention to nurturing the connection.

Below is a short Relationship Assessment that can serve as a tool for deeper insight and more meaningful connection.

Relationship Assessment

  • How happy are you with your relationships? In what ways do your relationships nourish – or drain – you? Do you make a point to spend time with people who nourish you? Do you set boundaries with people who drain you?
  • It’s common to sacrifice your own happiness in order to stay in certain relationships. You might think you’ve invested too much time and energy to move on. What if you allowed yourself to let go of the past and act on what you want most today?
  • Relationships are a dance of give and take. Are you aware of what makes the other person happy? Do you make a point to nourish their happiness through certain gestures, activities and agreements? How about you… are your needs met? Do you take time out of your busy life to talk openly about needs, hopes, worries, and dreams?
  • Simone Weil said, “Attention is the rarest and purist form of generosity.” Do you nourish your relationships with warm, interested attention? Do you make a point to set aside your own agenda and simply listen? Do you plan time away from devices to really be together?
  • It’s too easy to focus on where others are falling short. Do you spend time appreciating others’ goodness and strengths? Do you tell them what you most appreciate? We’re not all that great at mind reading (as much as we like to think we are!), so go ahead and tell them.
  • The Dalai Lama said, “Treat everyone like an old friend.” How are you with people you don’t know? Are you friendly and patient, or uninterested and hurried? What mark do you leave on people who’ve been in your presence?

Whether you’re aware if it or not, every encounter has an impact, for better or worse. Starting in your own home, neighborhood, and workplace, you can relate to others in a way that brings out the best in them, modeling care, understanding, and respect while inspiring kindness and connectedness from one person to the next.

Together, we can stop the perpetuation of loneliness and increase the tonnage of health and happiness across the world.

Breon Michel

About Breon

Mindfulness teacher, compassionate community leader, entrepreneur, writer, stress reduction aficionado, hope igniter, adventure seeker, mountain biker, devoted to others

2 Responses to “Relationship Assessment: Build Meaningful Connections One Encounter at a Time”

  1. Peggy

    Wow you hit it right on the nail. I am exactly like this. It is so hard to express how lonely one feels. Most people don’t want to hear your feelings. But you have some great suggestions to open up and listen to others feelings. The world seems too busy to listen. But the stress one holds onto is creating a much shorter life. Happiness is hard to enjoy sometimes. One seems to slide back into a black hole even after you experience a true moment of it. I really felt this. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart.

    • Breon

      Hi Peggy, thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your willingness to share so openly about how challenging it can be to open up. It’s very real for all of us. While many may appear that they have it all together, we all struggle with feelings of loneliness and the fear of being judged from time to time (OK, maybe a lot of the time!). Sometimes it does seem safer to withdraw from the world. But then as you point out, we miss out on fully connecting with the moments of our lives, which is one of the richest sources of genuine happiness. For all of us humans, happiness comes and goes in waves. The question isn’t whether or not we’re always happy (even though we sometimes thing we should always be happy, it’s not realistic), but if we can really be there to experience moments of happiness when they arise. As the old saying goes, how we live our moments is how we live our lives. 😉