Why Relationships Matter

The “rugged individual” is a false ideal. We are social animals who have evolved to bond with and depend on other human beings. Our attitude and actions can improve the quality of our relationships or cause them to deteriorate.


A story from India about relationships [1]:

A young woman married and went to live with her husband. Her mother-in-law also lived in the house.

It didn’t take long for the young woman to discover that it was nearly impossible to get along with her mother-in-law, a critical and mean-spirited woman, able to find something wrong with anything the young wife did. They constantly argued and bickered, even though custom dictated that the mother-in-law was to be treated with respect.

Finally, the young wife reached the breaking point. She went to see one of her father’s old friends, a dealer of herbs, wise to the ways of the world. There she poured out her sad story about the situation that had become unbearable to her. She asked if he could give her a poison that would solve her problem once and for all.

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Creating Positive Relationships

Developing and enjoying positive relationships is an important part of well-being — one of the 5 core concepts identified by Martin Seligman in his PERMA model of well-being theory. [Seligman] Positive relationships can even help us live longer, as shown by the evidence in the “Blue Zones”, areas of the world with the longest-lived peoples. [Kotifani]

The Fable Of The Porcupines

It was a frigid cold winter. The earth was frozen and many animals died from the cold. And so a group of porcupines agreed to huddle together that they might keep warm.

But as they lay up close to one another, the quills of each porcupine pricked and injured the ones they were closest to. After a while, the porcupines decided they couldn’t take this anymore, so they moved apart. And one by one, they began freezing to death.

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Why You Need Positive Relationships

Creating positive relationships and nurturing our ties to other people are fundamental practices for flourishing and enhanced well-being. Simple practices have a large impact on improving our relationships. When we do them, our own happiness increases.

Once a month, my wife, Rebecca, and I join with other musicians we’ve met over the years for an acoustic jam session. We sit in a circle and each person takes a turn performing a song, while the rest of us join in. Depending on the size of the group, we go around the circle two or three times, then break to share the food we’ve all brought. After the break, we go back to the circle and go around once or twice more.

The group varies from month to month — we may have 12 or more or we may have only 5 or 6. We sing and talk and laugh and share a meal. By the end of the evening, I have connected to people with whom I have developed positive relationships over the years. I always leave in a more relaxed, peaceful state than when I arrived, especially if I’ve had a hectic, stressful week. In a word, I am happier.

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When Things Go Right: The Power Of Positive Responses

“People we care about often tell us about . . . good things that happen to them. How we respond can either build the relationship or undermine it.” ~ Martin Seligman

4 Friends React To Good News

Sally was excited to meet her friends for dinner after work. She had received a promotion that day, for which she had worked and prepared a long time. Over dinner, she excitedly shared her good news about her big promotion. Let’s listen in to hear how her friends responded.

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