A series of monthly relationship practices by Jill Weinknecht Wardell, Training and Development Specialist, Training and Organization Development department
Wellness not only applies to individuals but to relationships as well. What are healthy relationships? Healthy relationships are those that are capable of movement, transformation, and change. The way you cultivate healthy relationships is by putting practices into place that raise awareness and create new possibilities for you and/or your partner (whether it be a supervisor, colleague, friend, or loved one).
A practice is something (an action, words, or way of being) that you intentionally put into place in order to create or forward positive change. You may choose to practice for the sake of another without them knowing it or if you have an interested and/or willing partner, you may enroll them to practice with you. Either way, it is important to pay attention to how the quality of the relationship shifts over time.
We forget that just as we are capable of change, relationships too, are capable of change. Nothing is the way it is things are the way we design them to be. Practicing helps us reclaim our role as a co-creator of our design. Even if our partner is not willing to practice with us, we can create a sense of peace and well being in ourselves and likely change the course of our relationship simply by choosing different ways of seeing, being, and acting.
Relationships serve not only the two people who are involved but a larger network as well a department, work colleagues, family, friends, and the community. For the sake of these extended communities and their well being, we need to tend to our relationships to ensure that they are healthy and functioning, providing internal as well as external support to us and to those whom we serve.
Keeping a practice log is one way of tracking progress. It is not meant to be a journal and need not be lengthy. The intention is to succinctly focus on the following:
January 12, 2009
Practice: Notice the difference between phenomena (what actually happened and observable through the senses) and story (my interpretation of it).
Today, on my way to the office, I said hello to a colleague who did not say hello in return. I immediately noticed my shoulders raise and tense up, my breathing halt, and a feeling of resentment well up. I began creating a story about how rude she was to ignore me, assuming that she had. I remembered my practice and became curious about what other stories and other possibilities might be true. Possibly she didn't hear me or maybe she was caught up in an assignment. As I imagined these stories to be true, I felt my breathing return to normal, a spaciousness return to my posture, and a feeling of peace return. I was able to let go of my truth and any resentment I felt toward this colleague.
Would you like to find out how to increase your happiness, improve your relationships, and save money this holiday season? Turns out that spending quality time with friends and family can accomplish all three desires. Science has recently shown a link between social relationships and happiness. A recent study using the British Household Panel Survey was published in the Journal of Socio-Economics and found that when it comes to happiness social relationships are worth more than $100,000. Conversely, actual increases in income lead to very little happiness. More than the money, often spending quality time with friends and family provides much needed ‚Äėsoul food.‚Äô This holiday season, let‚Äôs pause and reflect on the commitments we‚Äôve made and choose to make time to connect with those who most matter to us.
In the coming month, find opportunities to meaningfully connect with friends and family. You might choose to go for a walk, volunteer together, or simply share a meal. Consider forgoing gifts this season and instead write a letter of gratitude to your partner or create some other way to show your gratefulness. Whatever you choose to do, do it from the heart and notice what difference it makes in terms of your relationship and your happiness.