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While life is an extraordinarily amazing gift in and of itself, relationships are the one thing that can increase the value of that gift and make our lives even sweeter. Conversely, disconnection, and inauthentic and feigned relationships with ourselves and others, can cause very real harm, derailing goals, dampening dreams, decreasing our joy and consuming our most precious commodity with little to no return on investment of precious time and energy.

But how do we foster and strengthen real and meaningful relationships — first with ourselves and then with others, who serve as participants in a mutual exchange of support for our well-being and growth, professionally, socially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in a host of other ways that enhance our joys of life?

Well, while it’s taken a bit of time for me to figure this one out, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. What I know today is that our personal relationships have a real and direct impact on the quality of our lives. So how do we take stock of where we are relationally and shore up our personal connections to enjoy gains in health, happiness, and advances in our goals to become our very best selves? Let’s start here:

“Happiness is an inside job…” — Mandy Hale

Shore Up Your Relationship With Yourself

During the second decade of my life and for a short period during the third, I thought I wanted to make lots of money, live in a big house, and drive a fancy, expensive car. During those years I lived with an obsession for designer handbags and clothing with people’s names — that had no idea who I was and that I could barely pronounce, must less afford — but that didn’t matter. I amassed material gains anyway as I thought those things would add value to my life and make me happy — thinking others would admire me and I would have lots of friends. Of course, none of that was true and thankfully with another decade-plus under my belt, I’ve figured out that the designers, who I noted knew nothing about me during those years, were really at that time, not at all very different from me.

You see, I spent most of those early years in a desperate search for happiness outside of myself that, not surprisingly, proved elusive. The result was that I suffered all of the emptiness that came with that futile search, and it showed in the quality of my finances, my relationships, and my aspirations for my life. Today, I know for sure that happiness is not something that we will ever find outside of ourselves. Rather, it is found inwardly and when we know that, then we know it matters not what we have, but who we are and what kind of relationship we have with ourselves. We must first tend to that before beginning the work of strengthening relationships outside of ourselves if we are to achieve happiness, health, or any other worthwhile relationship.

The Company We Keep

As I mentioned, I’ve spent my share of time in relationships that didn’t feed me and instead created the illusion that I was the person in those circumstances that I was always going to be. Huh! Little did I know that the person I was becoming was being denied identity and suffocated the longer I maintained those unsupportive and unhealthy relationships — out of some feigned belief of obligation. Who are you becoming? Do you desire to lose weight, take better care of yourself, organize your life, or become a raw-food chef, a writer, a health coach, a runner, or something else?

Who we wish to become will inform our decisions about where we spend our time and with whom. Those decisions will bolster your aspirations and encourage you along the way. They will also bring shared joy and happiness that raises our expectation of ourselves and those around us. With that, I encourage anyone looking to change their life and collect their fair share of happiness and success to take stock of the company you’re keeping, and make sure your relationships are adding to your goal of becoming who you most desire. To be clear, the company we keep should not stifle our growth — it should support the unfolding of the richness and beauty of our lives.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” — Jim Rohn

Building Your Tribe to Have the Life You Want

Connection is the one thing all people, universally, crave. We each have a strong and innate desire to be seen, to be heard, to be valued, and to be appreciated. So how do we fill this need in healthy, meaningful, and authentic ways that meet a range of needs we scarcely admit to having in our busy, everyday lives?

While I continue to work to ensure my relationship with myself is healthy and strong, I also share time with existing friends and foster new connections to build my tribe of friends who challenge me, hold me accountable, and inspire me to greater levels of consciousness that will further awaken me to the spectacular life intended for me. I deeply cherish those friendships as they make me better and without question, enrich my life in ways that delight and surprise. It is those relationships that remind me of who I truly am and what I am capable of while supporting my overall health and happiness — and allowing the laws of reciprocity to work beautifully as I am afforded the privilege of doing the same for them.

I hope you, too, will be inspired to continue building supportive relationships on your own journey to a life where your hopes and dreams manifest in beautiful ways that grow you, shape you, and create shared experiences, cultivated by mutual support for all of the joy in life that each of us, so richly deserve.

“True friendship multiplies the good in life….” — Baltasar Gracian 

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