Recently I have had time to reflect on this site and all of the posts within. One thing that really stands out is that life is all about growth and relationships. There really is nothing more to life than this. When we talk about growth and relationships on this site, there are three pillars we aim at:
- Personal: I have found that when one can maintain a growth mindset, they remain open to life and all of the opportunities that come along. Being open to life can be challenging as we often have to self-regulate when our emotions take hold. Regulating allows us to stay cool and see things as they are instead of how we feel them be. From a relationship standpoint, we take care of ourselves, physically and mentally. As a parent, I have had to learn (and relearn) to take care of myself first before anyone else. It feels so contradictory as a caring husband/father, but it is the best way to manage. When we take good care of #1, we can take care of #2, 3, 4,….so on and so forth. When we put #1 last, we limit our capacity to take care of anyone else and eventually fail.
- Inner Circle: When I think of inner circle growth, I think of immediate family and closest friends. This is where things get dicey. You can control all of the personal stuff above with practice, but you cannot control everything when others are involved. We have to release the idea of control. Growing these relationships is about honesty, empathy, communication, and compromise. We do our best to influence (actions are better than words) where we can, but we also have to allow others to do the same. Great inner circle relationships are ones centered around trust and listening. We must make our inner circle feel significant, or they will find a different circle to be in.
- Outer Circle: Outer circle is everyone and everything that does not fit into Personal and Inner Circle. These can be distant family, acquaintances, and the surrounding community. Growing in this respect comes in all different shapes and forms. A few that come to mind are volunteering, donating, and showing respect to all we come in contact with. The bottom line here is we set an example for the world to see what it means to be a caring person.
When we take care of our relationships (in the order above), we begin to create an environment where joy can manifest. Joy is the output we experience when we are growing and tending to our relationships. There is nothing greater than this.
However, this does not mean that there are not struggles along the way. The greatest struggle that I had to learn to accept was that I would often violate the expectations of what others had placed on me as I grew. Yes, there is an agreed on (often silent) definition of identity/expectation in every relationship we have. Not everyone takes well to change, and not everyone is in a growth pattern. When these struggles appear, we need to fall back on honesty and communication. Change and acceptance of change take time. Be patient with our relationships, and continue to cultivate an environment where they can blossom. Everything happens in its own time.
We create a great life when we create and grow great relationships.
Honor yourself, your inner circle, and your outer circle. When we can expand all three through our daily actions, we are truly on the path of a life well-lived.
Photo by Tobin Rogers via Unsplash