Who Brings Out the Best in You?
Our wellness and thriving are not isolated or solo tasks. Rather, our well-being has very much to do with the network of relationships within which we live and give preference to in our daily lives.
As we think about individual wellness, an important contribution to our thinking can come in the simple recognition that we are not monads. Our well-being and emotional health consist of far more than only our personal efforts to master our inner domain of thoughts, feelings, and decisions. It has far more to do with whether or not we fulfill our New Year’s resolutions.
Vincent de Paul once said, “What a blessing to be a member of a Community because each individual shares in the good that is done by all!”[i] And in fact, much evidence seems to point to the fact that our well-being may be far more about the people and communities within which we live our lives each day—that is, the network or “social matrix” of relationships that daily impact our environment and that support and enrich us … or not. We are undeniably social beings.[ii]
Therefore, today we move to consider the people in our life. Who are those in your social network currently? While this network might certainly include your online friends to some degree, the deeper question being asked is about who are those you physically see and interact with on a regular basis? What is the overall net effect of your current relationships? With whom would you love to spend more time? Are there relationships that are either life-giving or draining for you? If so, what makes them so? How might your current network of relationships, and the use of your time with them, change to fall more on that life-giving side of the equation?
Now may also be a moment to dive a little deeper to better understand the relational or social patterns that have been established in your life. How have your habits or tendencies impacted the way you spend your emotional time and energy? Do they indicate positive and healthy patterns, which contribute in good and meaningful ways to your overall wellness?
As always, with such probing, introspective questions about our life, we benefit from beginning with gentle acceptance. Many of us are our own worst critics. Moving into healthier relationships with others and building a life-giving social community involves also building a healthier relationship with ourselves. Developing the habit of practicing gentleness with ourselves in this process can go a long way to moving us in the right direction.
What is one step you can take today or this week to move toward establishing or building upon a positive and generative social network of friendship and support?
Complete the “Explore Your Purpose” activity entitled, “Reflecting on People and Relationships.”
Reflection by: Mark Laboe, Associate VP for Mission a
[i] Conference 1, “Explanation of the Regulations,” 31 July 1634, CCD, 9:2. Available at https://via.library.depaul.edu/vincentian_ebooks/34/.
[ii] See also: David G. Myers, “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People,” American Psychologist 55:1 (2000): 56, https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.56; Ed Diener and Martin E. P. Seligman, “Very Happy People” Psychological Science 13:1 (2002): 81–84; Nicholas Epley, Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want (New York: Vintage, 2014); Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder, “Mistakenly Seeking Solitude,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143:5 (2014), 1980–1999, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037323; and Erica J. Boothby, Margaret S. Clark, and John A. Bargh, “Shared Experiences are Amplified,” Psychological Science 25:12 (2014): 2209–16.