Recently, we have been talking about the elements you need to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. The last two articles dealt primarily with the idea of autonomy. This refers to being in control of not only yourself, but of your own life.
This week we are going to move on to the second ingredient that our recipe calls for: relatedness. Relatedness is being connected to those around you both in terms of individual people and of society as a whole.
The honest truth is that we are all social animals and, no matter how much of a loner we may think we are or may act like we are, it is part of our makeup to seek a connection with people other than ourselves. What isn't always so evident is how to do that.
We live in a world where people are exchanging more information than ever before but becoming more and more isolated. Social media platforms have paved the way for the misrepresentation of self. People may seem well connected because they have thousands of "friends", but they no longer know their neighbors or coworkers like they used to. I find it personally amazing that many times we will know more about what someone on the other side of the world eats for dinner than what is happening in the house next door.
Relating to people involves more than simply exchanging information. Machines exchange information. People, as emotional creatures, need more than just data to feel connected to one another.
We all need those little bits of interaction that enable us to care for each other as individuals: that smile conveying more than words ever could; that glance letting someone know you got their back; that little nod telling a friend you understand. It is these type of connections that make us feel a part of society.
There is a corollary to this. As we learn more about the people around us, we will learn more about our real purpose in life. I have told people for many years, If you want to find your passion, you need to help others! I still hold that to be true. More about that in a future article.
My challenge for you this week:
Complete the following homework assignment this week. You will find it to be very simple, but also very rewarding!
Take time to have one real conversation with someone face-to-face, such as a co-worker or the neighbor on your street or apartment building.
Go visit that brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend that you never seem to have time to see.
Make a list of the feelings you experienced once you encountered these individuals.