Monday, September 17, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 
“What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
--- C.S. Lewis

We as human beings each have distinct needs for social distance from others. Sometimes, we do not want to be too close to another person as we feel it threatens our autonomy and independence.

Neither do we want to be too distant from the other person, as we are also subconsciously aware—as the social psychological research of Roy Baumeister of Florida State University attests—that we need to form groups to survive.

Desiring to be close to a friend, family member, or intimate partner is OK—in fact, it’s a sublime, ineffable representation of the love and caring we possess deep within. It is also a feeling we must nurture as it enables us to form meaningful connections with others.

Insisting on this closeness, however, is an entirely different matter and should be avoided at all costs.

Yes, it is true that in the present moment, we need other people who are real and authentic and make an effort to develop a relationship with us.

Yet it is also true that we have to let go of our symbolic mental representations of how close a specific person should be to us at any point in time.

Instead, we can choose to embrace those who grace us with their effort to be present in our lives.

This week, make a pact with yourself to dedicate more time and energy to the people you have been taking for granted and less to those who have not been reciprocating your efforts.

Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through purchases, click here.

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