The Meaning of Our Relationships
Our relationships with family, friends and loved ones are among the greatest joys in life. With them we view our lives as more complete, find greater meaning to our existence and some of us write eloquent tracts of poetry and prose in praise of them. Studies show the emotional support we get from friends and loved ones in our relationships has a positive effect on our cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and ultimately help us live longer.
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
When we lose, or never experience, loving and lasting relationships we see our lives as lacking and suffer – more than you may know. Research shows that regardless of age, culture or social status, people who lack close, meaningful relationships have a significantly higher risk of mortality, are more prone to disease and have lower survival rates after heart attacks. The effects on our health can be compared to high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise.
Lack of human companionship, chronic loneliness, social isolation and the sudden loss of a loved one are among the leading causes of premature death in America.
—Dr. James Lynch, Noted Psychologist, Author and Researcher on the Effects of Loneliness
Approximately 84% of Americans suffer emotional chaos, with men and women saying their three greatest sources of emotional chaos are their relationships with significant others, their children and people at the workplace.
—2002 Harris Poll
Glen and Jenny
Glen and Jenny were at the end of their rope, still fighting after seven years of marriage about things they’d disagreed on from the first day. Their marriage was surely on the rocks and though they didn’t believe they could save it alone, they wanted to do something. As a last ditch effort, they sought the help of a psychologist, who, instead of relying on traditional intervention methods – having them face and confront each other, etc. – suggested a new approach.
In the first session, Glen and Jenny learned the steps of HeartMath’s Freeze-Frame® technique, including disengaging from their thoughts and feelings when they began to argue, shifting focus to their hearts and ultimately sustaining a change in perception and feeling. Within days the fighting began to dissipate and they could speak without arguing, and after a few weeks “they began re-experiencing moments of the love and appreciation they felt when they first were married.”
A HeartMath Institute e-booklet that explores the relationships of our lives, looks at some of the key mistakes we make that cause them to fail and offers proven tools to help them succeed, including the art of leading with the heart – not going head over heels out of pure emotion, but from an intelligent, self-secure place within the heart, where wisdom, intuition and understanding reside and can teach us, beginning with ourselves, to foster deeper, longer-lasting relationships.
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Love and Friendship
That very first moment of recognition, the one when we know that fondness has turned to love, that we’ve made a genuine friend for life or that we suddenly understand the meaning of “family is forever,” is an occasion for celebration, one that can make us laugh or bring us to tears, sustain us through life’s trials and, at the end of the day, leave us content in the knowledge that we have a great fortune locked away somewhere deep in our hearts.
Lasting relationships, those honest, open and respectful are something HeartMath calls “authentic communication.” In fact, these are all elements of the mortar that holds together the foundations of our loves and friendships.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
A HeartMath TIP:
HeartMath has found that a simple way to enhance relationships with partners, friends and family is to always observe the following three courtesies when speaking with another person.
- Words: Listen closely to the words being spoken to you.
- Feelings: Try to determine what feelings are behind these words.
- Essence: Appreciate the listener and try to understand the real meaning of the words.
Benefits of Strong, Meaningful Relationships
- Less susceptibility to disease, increased survival rate from heart attack
- Longer, healthier life
- Wake up with more positive outlook, hopefulness
- Increased vitality, zest
- Life has greater meaning, purpose, richness
- Feel more connected to people
Tools For Improving Relationships
Researchers and scientists at the HeartMath Institute have devoted many years to studying the human heart and the results of their work are profound: We now know that within the heart there resides great wisdom, intuition and intelligence. HeartMath has developed simple, straightforward and effective tools and techniques to teach you to harness the heart’s capacity to intelligently guide you in overcoming the stresses, disappointments and turmoil that confront us as we go through life.