Top five habits: #5 Connection

building connections with others
Connection has everything to do with our relationships, but more importantly, it has to do with the quality of our relationships. Today, I want you to consider something, and I don’t have any science or research to back it up, but I do have that feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And you didn’t even know that stomachs had pits!

Consider this: Auto-pilot relationships normally proceed from a certain point of origin, and the way we treat others when we ourselves are in auto-pilot mode is highly scripted. There isn’t much thought put behind them, and we are mindlessly lobbing tennis balls without even caring if they make it over the net.

While it is true that we should be others-focused, that focus originates in us. I repeatedly say that I am the only piece on the chessboard whose moves I get to decide. I’m the only actor on the stage whose lines and movements I control. But here is the great thing…you don’t have to react in auto-pilot mode. A good life is rarely the result of what happens to us, but rather how we respond. Respond as a person who is fully alive in the moment.

Good relationships should be treasured. But this is where I differ with others who often selfishly say that we should abandon those who don’t serve some ultimate purpose in our lives. Maybe their negativity kills our vibe. Maybe they refuse to let us move on in our own lives, whatever that means. Or maybe they know too much about our “former lives.”

You know what? I don’t throw people away. I never have, and I never will. And I hope you don’t either, because it is a rotten thing to do. Our lives aren’t meant to be one pleasant stroll through a wildflower garden every single moment. Sometimes things are downright rough and bruising. We live in a fallen world, and we are fallen people.

Connection that doesn’t throw people away looks something like accompaniment through life. I state in Human Scale Happiness that I’d rather accompany people than be their judge. Yeah, sometimes we have to get all Judgy McJudgerson if someone is going to make a really dumb decision or harm themselves. But most of the time I would rather accompany a person. When we judge, we usually make a break with the person we judged. Isn’t it nearly impossible to continue to nudge people in what we believe is the right direction if we’re no longer walking with them, accompanying them?

Did you ever watch The Big Lebowski, or see a T-shirt with Jeff Bridges mug on it with the saying “The Dude Abides”? What I’m talking about is kinda like that. The Dude is an interesting character who doesn’t always make the right decision, but he does abide. Abiding is kinda sorta like accompanying.

In your relationships, your connections, always make an attempt to know where the other person is coming from. You’ve heard the saying about walking in someone else’s shoes? I’ve always said that you should always walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before judging them. Why?

Because then you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes.

Kidding. When you are maintaining less than desirable connections, remember that their attitude and possible deficiencies aren’t about you. They don’t refer to you, they always refer back to their origin. And unless that origin truly is you, you can settle down a bit and breathe.

Their attitude or negativity isn’t about you, even when it is. Why? Repeat it with me again: Because it doesn’t refer to you, it refers back to it’s origin.

You can learn more about active constructing responding, about being an irresistible connection, about being an outward focused person who strives to give others what they are owed, and about short-circuiting auto-pilot mode and being a mindful friend.

But for today, think about your relationships as connections that you choose to value and develop with imperfect people in a fallen world.  Don’t throw anyone away, but rather see yourself as a valuable gift to be given to others. Nobody else can be the person you are to your connections. So be.

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