Choose your community wisely.

Continuing our theme of enriching the soil for life long good health, in this post I will talk about the importance of our community in which we live. I will use the word ‘community’ in a wider sense than the usual meaning; it will also include sense of connectedness and formation of social networks with other individuals in that community. So this includes all of our relationships with each other, including family, friends,work colleagues, acquaintances and strangers; as well as the relationships with the broader world, to the universe and the  community in which we live. I am using this wider sense because we are social beings, and we as individuals can only flourish in a good, wholesome, fertile Eco-system.

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Eco system that promotes stress will cause ill-health. Studies show living in communities that are stressful and cause unhappiness contribute to ill-health and in communities where there is happiness and contentment are health promoting.

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Our Eco-system starts with our families and on that we may not have a choice. If possible we would want to experience in our family a wide range of emotions without fear of harsh judgement and with over all feeling of  happiness, feeling of being safe and supported;  and also having a sense of  unconditional love. In this kind of environment we produce less toxic hormone in our bodies. We are able to learn from our mistakes and grow. We can explore and can afford to be adventurous. Of course the opposite is true when our family environment is not supportive but is  judgmental and so resulting in us shutting down, unable to share our emotional life. The first situation as you can imagine is ‘life giving’ and the second situation is ‘stifling and life draining.’

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Friendship can be mutually beneficial in different ways. The best friendship, according to Aristotle  is that in which both individuals are equally virtuous and never do any harm to each other, to do so would be against their nature; and they have mutual love for each other. Lesser friendships are where there is limited mutual benefit through the association.

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The further away we move from our association with family and friends, to work associates, acquaintances and strangers our reasons for association become more limited but these associations still can have significant impact on us depending on whether the relationship is stressful or not.

The sense of the relationship to our neighborhood should be where its safe to be there without coming to harm from individuals, noise and pollution.

We also want to have the sense that we are not poisoning our planet and we want to leave behind a healthy planet for our children and many future generations.

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Obviously we don’t have complete control to organize our community around us so that it allows us to flourish. We never the less need to align ourselves so that it causes minimal harm to our person-hood  This requires deep thought on what we value, practical wisdom and great courage to make a change. In the end, the change that results in less stress and more contentment will be healthy one indeed.

Vulnerability Is A Birthplace Of Joy, Creativity, Belonging And Love.

In my previous posts I talked about how important fellowship is for living a good life. Have you ever wondered how we make connections with others; why some connections are so strong and close, while others are loose, untrustworthy and unreliable. And how those close connections with others gives us richness, purpose and meaning to our lives. While those not so close connections leaves us feeling little uneasy.

It seems our vulnerability plays a crucial role in making these connections. When we normally think of vulnerability it is in a sense of being unprotected. What are we usually protecting ? It is some aspect of ourselves  which we are fearful of revealing because it causes us to feel shame. When we are busy hiding our fear and shame it is hard to be our authentic self. But it is only when we are our authentic self that we are likely to make a close and lasting connection with someone; and maybe resulting in a life long friendship.If we are unable to be authentic it is unlikely our connection will be strong and long-lasting – because there will be a sense of distrust in this connection until what is hidden is revealed. The revealing is hard, being authentic is hard, so we reinforce our fear and shame by telling ourselves we are not worthy of these close connections or true friendship. We continue to hold on to our fear and shame. We continue to be without close friends.

In order to connect and have close friendships we need to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is to have enough courage to say I am not afraid to be as I am with all my imperfections. It is to say I am worthy of love and belonging as I am. It is to say I am beautiful when I am my authentic self . It is to say I embrace my vulnerability.

While vulnerability is a space where we struggle with shame, fear and issues of worthiness; it can also be the birthplace of joy , creativity, belonging and love. This happens when we fully embrace our vulnerability, we no longer need to give energy to our fears, we are our authentic selves, people around us sense we are not fearful or hiding anything, we are at ease. This frees us to be joyful, to be creative, to belong and to love. We are able to say” I love you” first. We are able to invest in a relationship that may not work out. We can do things without guarantee that they will work out.

It is important to recognize that we cannot selectively numb vulnerability. When we numb vulnerability we are also numbing  gratitude and happiness. We numb vulnerability in variety of ways – by moving from uncertainty to certainty e.g. from religion being faith and mystery to wanting certainty ; by blaming, it allows one to discharge pain and discomfort ; by pretending what we do doesn’t have impact on others people; by trying to be perfect. When we get into these kinds of behaviour patterns we are not only suppressing or numbing the vulnerability but also numbing to be in gratitude and being happy.

Alternative way of being could be to allow ourselves be seen as we are, love with our whole heart without expectation or guarantees, practice gratitude and joy. Accept ourselves as being enough.

Resources:

The Power Of Vulnerability

Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

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