Relating Well and Happiness

Relating well - to ourself, others, the environment, to life itself - is what life's all about. This healthy, harmonious relationship is genuine peace & happiness. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this "interbeing" - each one of us is completely interdependent & interwoven in one fabric with everyone & everything else. Dogen wrote "To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things."

When centered - coming from a place of peace, comfort, stillness, silence & timelessness - we're aware that we're at home in our interdependent universe, and behave appropriately: in a kind, nurturing, collaborative, healing, civilized manner.

But too often, when awareness is suboptimal, we feel as if out on a limb - adrift in fear, discomfort, turbulence, noise & time - we mistakenly feel lost, as if alone against the world. Then our natural fear-based instinct is to react in an adversarial, egocentric "look out for number 1" manner. This is how relationships break down, resulting in intra- and interpersonal suffering, and all forms of conflict, from divorce to war.

We can learn to become increasingly more mindful of our felt sense. Do I feel centered OR out on a limb? Whenever I feel out on a limb, I can practice becoming increasingly more skillful at quickly & easily returning to being centered. We all wish to be happy, and decrease our own and others' suffering. We can learn to do so by mindfully establishing our default home base in peace, comfort, stillness, silence & timelessness.

Robert Waldinger MD on What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

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