What kind of relationship do you have with the natural world?
Spending time in nature contributes to restoration, stress reduction, and healing, and generates positive feelings such as wonder, fascination, and awe. Even indirect experiences of nature contribute to our wellbeing, such as viewing plants or trees, tending to houseplants and gardening. As we spend more time observing nature, we cultivate a stronger appreciation of natural beauty and see how the cycles of nature apply to our own life. In nature, we see both destruction and the promise of renewal and rebirth firsthand.
Bringing nature or nature-inspired elements indoors allows us to experience the many benefits of nature from the comfort of our own home. Green spaces and gardens nourish us and support our renewal. Bringing plants indoors gives life to our living spaces and creates a softer, more comfortable and soothing environment. Houseplants provide us with fresh air, reducing carbon dioxide and air pollutants in our home. Green spaces can help improve our focus, concentration, attention, learning, and creativity. Caring for plants increases our energy levels and feelings of vitality and joy.
The relationships we have with other people are calling us toward a higher level of self-understanding. People come into our life to help us learn about our self and where we still hold old emotional wounds. We all have unhealed places in our heart and these old wounds can't be released until they are exposed and we become aware of them. If we pay attention to what triggers us in our relationships with other people, we can come to know our wounds and the blocks to love that we have created; then we can work toward healing. As we learn to forgive in our relationships, we begin to heal. As we begin to heal, we learn to open our heart more fully and become more loving. We need to make the conscious choice to heal, and we need to be open to learning from each of our relationships. This takes a commitment to self-inquiry, self-awareness, and self-understanding.
The feelings and emotions that I have felt in response to my relationships are signals about something going on within myself that needs to be acknowledged, healed, and released. I have to remind myself that in most cases, people don't do things with the intention of making me irritated or angry. So if that's how I'm feeling, I need to inquire into the emotion to understand why I'm feeling that way. Often these feelings are a signal to something deeper - a need I have that's not being met (such as need to be acknowledged, a need to be respected, or a need to be heard).
Sometimes my feelings are signaling that I'm feeling ignored or unloved in a relationship. And if I'm being completely honest, I've had to do a lot of work in this space. I've spent many years believing I'm not loved. It took a lot of deep self-inquiry and self-reflection to understand that feelings of unlovability were running deep. In most cases, when I felt like someone didn't love me, upon a deeper self-inquiry, I realized that I wasn't doing a good job of loving the other person, or that I wasn't doing a good job of loving myself
I've found it helpful to use my journal to help me reflect on what I'm learning in my various relationships. As I interact with others, whether acquaintances, co-workers, colleagues, friends, or family, I pay attention to when I am triggered with strong emotions such as irritation or anger. When I feel like someone is "pushing my buttons" or find myself blaming someone else for something that is not going the way I want it to, that is a signal to inquire into the situation and explore why I am feeling so triggered. When I feel triggered by a relationship, I explore the situation fully in my journal, using questions such as the following:
Wellbeing is related to, but extends beyond “happiness.” Focusing on our wellbeing is a pathway to living an optimal, connected, and fulfilling life. There are three core, interrelated elements of wellbeing that are foundational to our ability to grow into our best self and live our best life: personal wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, and relational wellbeing. These elements are fundamental because the core of who we are - personally, spiritually, and relationally – influences how we relate to and interact with ourselves, others, and the world. Investing in our wellbeing includes prioritizing our self-care and focusing on our own personal and spiritual growth. Nourishing our body, our heart, and our spirit gives us the fuel we need to fully engage in all other areas of our life.
Often the place to look first relates to our personal wellbeing and how well we are caring for ourselves. Sometimes we need to examine what is not working in our life so we can understand what we *do* want. As we then make change in that direction, we ultimately will find peace, harmony and ease. Making a commitment to consciously focus on our wellbeing can guide us toward healthy stress-management techniques, and sources of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation when we need it the most. Investing in our wellbeing includes prioritizing our self-care, physical health, intellectual heath, and emotional health, as well as focusing on our own personal and spiritual growth. It also involves treating ourselves with compassion and kindness, and choosing to forgive and love ourselves.
When we care for ourselves in this way, we receive the energy and fuel we need in order to care for and fulfill our commitments and obligations to others. If we expend too much energy focusing only on our external relationships and are not also caring for our needs or focusing on our own self-care, we won’t have energy to be fully present in our relationships with others over the long term. Similarly, when we neglect our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs, we may have a difficult time devoting energy to or finding meaning in our work. Nourishing our body, heart, and spirit gives us the fuel we need to fully engage in all other areas of our life.
For most of us, our work and professional life consumes most of our time, attention, and energy. But we all deserve and need to take care of our personal and spiritual wellbeing, too. We need to nourish our body and nurture our soul so we don’t become depleted. Our spiritual path invites and encourages us to search for a deeper meaning and purpose for our life. What I’ve come to believe is that we have multiple levels of purpose that guide us through life.
The various levels of purpose are intertwined and connected. No one else can tell us what our purpose is – it’s up to each one of us to discover that for ourselves. No matter what our purpose is, imperative to the process is ACTION. Each choice we make and each step we take gets us one step closer to understanding why we are here and how we are meant to serve.
The quality of our relationship with those people is impacted by how well we are taking care of our self. If we are feeling depleted, it is hard to be fully present with the ones we love. So the first place to start on our personal growth journey is often exploring our personal and spiritual wellbeing first, before we look to this area of relational wellbeing. But personal relationships are important. The amount of joy and fulfillment we feel in our life is impacted by the quality of our relationships with other people. We are relational beings and are wired to connect with others. Even those of us who enjoy our solitude need to connect with people sometimes.
Time is a gift that most of us take for granted. We get so caught up in the busyness of our daily lives that we may not realize how much time we’re spending on activities that don't really matter all that much and how little time we are spending with the people who matter most to us. Our priorities are reflected not by what we say, but by what we do. In other words, we might say that spending time with family or friends is one of our top priorities - but are we showing that in action? How much quality time are we spending with our loved ones? And the time we are spending with them - is it of good quality? Meaning, are we actively engaging in dialogue or shared activities, or are we sitting next to each other scrolling through our phones or watching television? Do we make a difference in the lives of others, and are we receiving the support we need from those around us? It's important to reflect on the status of our relationships and to made adjustments where needed.