Medium published my new article “World Mental Health Day Oct. 10th”
This World Mental Health Day, it’s worthwhile to emphasize positive human relationships as the overarching means for good mental health. Mental illness stems from imbalance in the mind and body, which is caused by imbalance in society, which is further caused by imbalance with nature. By repairing our social connections, we bring ourselves into balance with nature, and such balance will positively affect not only our mental health, but also our general health and wellbeing.
Good human relationships are the treasure that makes life worthwhile and gratifying. That is an unquestionable truth considering that we are social animals. But around half of all Americans feel they lack meaningful relationships, that they are either alone, left out or isolated. Why is it so hard to achieve solid and fulfilling relations? It is absolutely doable; we just need to learn how.
Our Whole Life Is Based on Relationships
If we think about it, our whole life is based on relationships, at home, at work, with friends, acquaintances, at every level, in every field. We all want to succeed in life, get up in the morning happy and satisfied, but we live in a world with inequality and conflicts in basically every area where humans are involved.
From a very early age, we learn that we cannot say what we want, behave as we please, because it may provoke a negative and unpleasant reaction from others, so we adopt certain rules and codes of conduct set up by society to fit in. They might contribute to advance our personal life to a certain extent or make progress in our careers, but this framework is not enough to build significant relationships, a key factor linked to emotional stability and happiness by scientific studies. Quite the opposite, we live under constant stress which has massive implications for our well-being.
Social Isolation and Loneliness Is Unhealthy
Research finds that social isolation and loneliness are directly associated with health problems and increase the risk of early death up to 29% compared with those who have a supportive and friendly environment.
The lack of knowledge on how to relate to each other is a problem we face in today’s modern age. In the past, people were pigeonholed in classes and hierarchies. Rooted in those boundaries, relations were clear and simple. Today, those differences between people have disappeared. In a global reality, we are breaking the boundaries on religions, beliefs, socioeconomic status and professions.
This new, open perspective, on one hand, gives us a sense of equality, but on the other hand, it is merely superficial equality and people become confused. The world has become a global village, with everyone depending on each other, but while interdependent, great hatred is revealed.
We continue exploiting others for personal gain and try to impose our own views and egoistic decisions. Such a self-centered approach contradicts the principle of an egalitarian society, where every person is equally important even though everyone is different.
What Is the Basis for Positive Relationships?
The attitude of equality and mutual acceptance is the basis of all positive relations. A social educational system should be established to open up our eyes to the deep level of interdependence in all areas of our lives, which should amplify the indispensable need for positive social connections. We can begin with concrete steps to acquire strong and solid relations.
First, it is important to realize that in this tightly interdependent world, every piece is indispensable to complete the full picture of reality, like in a puzzle. By affecting one another, we affect the whole system, for better or for worse. It is a system that each person is part of and that influences each person directly. Do we want to benefit from the fact that we have good relations and a warm environment? Certainly, every person desires that reality for themselves. It is then in our own interest to transform our actions and intentions from harmful egoism to mutual understanding and care.
The way to achieve this goal is not rocket science and yet, it is also not obvious to us because we have not been taught how to do it. We only need to use the right communication tools. The best means to acquire the wisdom to develop and nurture meaningful relations is through discussions in connection workshops, also called “roundtable discussions” or “circles discussions.”
By sitting in circles as equals, communicating with each other with a positive approach and relatively equal time for each speaker, not debating or suppressing other views, only sharing our thoughts and genuinely listening to others without interrupting, we gradually become closer to each other, finding a common and fertile ground to harvest good relations. This method opens a wellspring of solutions to problems we might consider unsolvable.
The sense of mutual respect and consideration create an atmosphere of unity above deep divisions, so much needed in today’s interconnected but imbalanced world. It is in our hands to change this reality, build fulfilling relations based on unity and mutual understanding, and by doing so, enjoy good health as a byproduct of our positive connections.