One thing’s for sure: everyone wants happiness. The popularity of Pharrell William’s recent hit “Happy” is evidence of that.
A growing body of happiness research that shows that good relationships are fundamental to our state of well-being.
If connections with other people are so important, why does it seem challenging to cause relationships to work?
Some people view compatibility as elusive, fleeing, and unexplainable.
As a teacher, counselor, and interfaith minister, I have discovered that there are keys to open the mysteries of good relationships. They all begin with “C” to remind us that at the heart of all of this is connection.
The 7 C’s of Relationships
1. Common ideals
This is probably the most important and least understood key for connection. Ideals are more than physical goals. They provide a kind of inner compass directing us to live in alignment with core values.
Because ideals are non-physical, they transcend the temporary ups and downs of life. This provides security that binds people together through changes in health, finances, or location.
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Ideals might be focused on education, religion, charity, discipline, creativity, friendship, environmental or political causes…anything that relates to developing a better self or a better world.
Learning to identify your ideals is a rewarding process that enables you to be fulfilled in any endeavor. In the words of Antoine de St.-Exupery, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Do you know the parable about the five blind men and the elephant? One touches the elephant’s ear and says, “This elephant is like a tree leaf.” Another, at the tail, says, “No, it is like a rope.” The man holding the elephant’s leg says, “What? It is like a tree,” while the one touching the trunk says, “It is like a snake.” The man touching the side says, “You are all crazy; it is like a wall.”
Who is correct? They all are, yet none has the whole truth. Listening and hearing one another gives us perspective; in other words, seeing the other person’s viewpoint so that we can understand.
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The word communication comes from the Latin root “to share.” Sharing oneself with another enriches both giver and receiver. Speaking one’s thoughts and listening for the purpose of understanding is the essence of good communication.
The goal of communication becomes arriving at a greater truth rather than proving one person right and another wrong, or one person smart and another stupid. This new paradigm for communication is refreshing and illuminating.
Good communication goes hand in hand with the next big relationship C: cooperation.
Cooperation, or working together toward the common ideal, enables people to become greater than they can be alone. Have you ever been involved in a group project that inspired in you greater vision or understanding or awareness of yourself? Working and playing together enriches us.
4. Creating together.
There is something magical about creating with other people. I am a writer, and although I have some musical ability, it is not my forte. Years ago, I wrote a poem which a friend of mine set to music. She is a brilliant musician with a sultry voice, and our collaboration brought a kind of light and life to my lyrics that I would never have been able to accomplish myself.
In a similar vein, an artist friend of mine commissioned me to write word-verses for a line of greeting cards she had produced.
This was a dream come true. I had always wanted to create greeting cards, since I often look at every card on a rack, never finding just the right one. She, a visual artist, really had no idea what kind of words would work for her illustrations. Together, we made cards that were whimsical, inspiring, and affectionate, fulfilling both of us in ways we could not do alone because of our differing talents.
5. Conflict resolution
All relationships, whether personal or professional, may involve disagreement or discord. Learning how to resolve conflict is essential for healthy associations. Unfortunately, many people are so afraid of emotion that they deny conflict and blame the other person, and the tension escalates.
The key to confict-resolution is understanding. When you want to know what another person thinks, and when you want to be able to receive that person, you can arrive at solutions.
The word compassion means “to feel with.” Feeling what another person feels, entraining one’s mind with another, requires empathy. A Native American saying, “O Great Spirit, help me to never judge another man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins” is good counsel for practicing compassion.
Compassion and love are related. Love is the energy of creation. It produces growth. Learning to love another person means focusing on that which is growth-producing, nurturing, nourishing, and beneficial. With compassion, we can discover what might fulfill the other person’s need rather than projecting onto that person what we think they need. This is an important distinction.
7. Causing change
The final key is perhaps the most difficult to practice. We all know someone who would make a great partner if only they would change! We probably even have ideas of how we think they should change.
Of course, no one can change another person. We can always change ourselves, though, which is empowering. The ability to transform, to say, “How can I help you?” “How can I be better?” “What do I need to understand here?” enables us to use our relationships for self-enrichment and growth.
Don’t force others to change. Instead, list the things we wish another person would change, and then cause those changes in ourselves. If you want another person to listen better, improve your own listening. If you want your partner to be more considerate, look to see how you can be more considerate. When you think your friend needs to be more patient, practice patience yourself.
If you want to increase your level of happiness, see how you relate with the people in your life. Do you tolerate them or truly love them? Are you more concerned about being understood or understanding? When you want to understand, to grow in love, to become better at listening, hearing, and changing, you can have a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Use the seven C’s of relationships. Ask yourself, “How can I give and receive love?” “How can I become a little bit better?” “How can I develop something new in myself through this association?” These seven keys will point you in a direction for enrichment.
Laurel Clark is a teacher with the School of Metaphysics, a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization headquartered in Windyville, MO. An interfaith minister, intuitive counselor, and author, she has developed a seminar called The Power of Personal Connection. She is also a certified Intuitive Heart practitioner.
Photo by willduris