Happiness and success in life don’t transpire when we have acquired a lot of stuff, but rather when we have nurtured lasting and meaningful relationships with people. Human beings are by nature social creatures; we crave friendship and love, just as we do food and water. The better our relationships, the happier we are in life.
As mindful individuals living life on purpose, we recognize that true joy arises when we learn to love people and utilize things rather than loving things and using people. However, in modern times, living in a virtual world, connected through social media and virtual dating, it has become harder and harder to develop a community of supportive friends and family.
Developing long-lasting intimate relationships requires hard work. Yet positive relationships form a solid foundation for happiness and success. We all have bonds we have chosen to form; friends, family, and romantic interests. How we choose to navigate and participate in these relationships has a significant impact on our happiness as well as our health and wellbeing. Developing positive relationships will make us happier, while negative relationships will cause us unnecessary pain and suffering.
Relationships, when observed with an open mind, show us our true selves. Sometimes the people in our lives can be a reflection of who we really are and how we treat other people. More often than not, when we don’t like something about a person, it is a mirror of what we do not like about ourselves. Relationships provide us with an opportunity to observe who we truly are in life. We can, on a moment-to-moment basis, pay attention to what we are thinking, feeling, or doing in response to what is happening externally. We can plug into our life story anytime and learn from it.
Best of all, every day we get a chance to practice acting from love. This goes beyond doing something nice for someone. Acting from love requires us to recognize the times when fear arises within us, and work to overcome it so we don't choose a course of action from a fearful place. That takes awareness, hard work, and courage, but in those moments, when we choose love, we truly grow as human beings.
There are Three Levels of a Relationship
- Level One: Selfish Relationships: My Needs Come First - This is the least mature level - one or both partners are focused on meeting their own needs first. The relationship is fragile. There is an erosion of trust and togetherness and there are regular conflicts or disputes.
- Level Two: Conditional Relationships: You Get Yours And I Get Mine - This level is based on a subtle agreement between two people: “You get yours and I get mine.” The relationship is a contract of favors where people keep track of who does what for who and payment is expected in return for services rendered.
- Level Three: Valued Relationships – This is the strongest relationship a person can form with other individuals. People put other people’s needs first. Relationships are based on adding value without expecting anything in return. There is an attitude of service just for the joy of helping others.
Creating Level Three Relationships takes hard work and continuous effort. Level Three Relationships are positive; we feel happiness, elation, contentment and calm. Level Three Relationships with our friends and family help us build our self-worth and self-image. Level Three Relationships provide support in times that we struggle, unconditional love, and a reason for doing many of the things we do, which helps give our lives meaning. Level Three Relationships provide us with a sense of identity and belonging.
There are seven Master Relationships Skills to help us build Level Three Relationships
- Heartfelt understanding
- Giving what they really need
- Creating and building trust and respect
- Reigniting playfulness, presence and passion
- Harnessing courage and embracing honesty
- Uncovering and creating alignment
- Live consciously: be an example
Healthy relationships enhance your life and make everyone feel good about themselves. They don’t just happen though; healthy relationships take time to build and need work to keep them healthy. The more positive effort you put into a relationship, the healthier it should be. Below are Four Suggestions on How You Can Build Better Healthier Relationships with the People in Your Life. May all beings be happy and free; may all our thoughts, words and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
Below are Four Actionable Steps You Can Take To Begin to Build Level 3 Relationships
- Clear communication: Communication is the cornerstone of every strong relationship. You will not always agree with your partner, but if you have a foundation of respect and clear communication it will be much easier to resolve any conflicts that arise.
- Practice acknowledging when your partner goes beyond the call of duty, even for little things, like doing that chore you hate to do. Speak honestly about any actions that make you feel hurt, stressed, guilty, or bad in any way, but avoid blaming, shaming, or isolating your partner. Listen to one another and have a productive conversation.
- Speak honestly about any actions that make you feel hurt, stressed, guilty, or bad in any way, but avoid blaming, shaming, or isolating your partner. Listen to one another and have a productive conversation.
- Accept and celebrate differences. One of the biggest challenges we experience in relationships is that we are all different. We can perceive the world in many ways. Certainly, a stumbling block that we come across when we try to build relationships is a desire or an expectation that people will think like we do and, in this way, it is so much easier to create a rapport. We feel more comfortable when we feel that people “get” us and can see our point of view. Life, however, would be very dull if we were all the same and, while we may find it initially easier, the novelty of sameness would soon wear off. So, accepting and celebrating that we are all different is a great starting point.