What does it mean to live a rich life?
If you watch TV shows, it’s tempting to think that being “rich” means living like the people on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
But in my experience as a counselor, I’ve noticed something about people with wealth.
They have just as many worries and anxieties as the rest of us.
A Different Definition of “Rich”
Most indigenous cultures had a different definition of the word “rich” than we do today. They believed richness came—not from wealth—but from the richness of relationship.
I think they might have been onto something. I think we might all be healthier and happier if we measured our lives by the quality of our relationships rather than the balance of our bank accounts.
There are two key types of relationships to consider:
- Your relationship with yourself
- Your relationship with the people around you
How to Have a Rich Relationship With Yourself
It may seem a strange way to think of it, but your relationship with yourself is a critical part of your overall wellbeing. There’s a wonderful quote that goes something like this: “we will always be second-class citizens so long as we treat our feelings like second-class citizens.”
I couldn’t have said it better. In order to have peace with your inner-self, you must begin by getting in touch with all of your feelings. Think of it as making a home for your emotions, a safe place for them to reside, free of judgement or shame.
If you feel lonely or sad, try to resist the urge to distract yourself from feeling those emotions. If you’re angry, try to resist the urge to vent to others. Instead, whatever you’re feeling, try to be present with the emotion, feeling it for what it is, and then try to understand the fear, sadness, or anger, and what it’s telling you about your unmet needs.
True relationship with yourself is simply staying in touch with your vulnerability, expressed through emotion, without critiquing yourself for whatever’s happening inside or outside. And as your communicate with yourself, you give your humanness a voice.
And, at last, you can be heard.
How to Have a Rich Relationship With Those Around You
A rich relationship with those around you starts in one of two ways.
First, you can listen to other people and learn to hear what they are feeling and needing, allowing them to richly express all of who they are.
Second, after you offer your understanding, you can share with them what you feel and need, expressing who you are in response.
From that place, you and those around you can connect to each other in an authentic, respectful way. Sometimes this means coming together in play. Other times, it means coming together to hold each other or to resolve difficult issues together or to celebrate together.
At the end of the day, living your richest life means something much more than can be measured by dollars and cents. The richest people I know are those who live in the fullness of relationship with themselves and with the people around them.
If you’d enjoy support in this process of reclaiming your relationship with yourself or with those around you, I invite you to reach out for a relationship with a caring therapist or counselor.
And if you’re struggling with relationship with your partner, then consider a relational or couple’s counselor to help breathe new life to the stuckness. Therapeutic relationships can open the door to rich relationship everywhere.
If you’re in the Fort Collins area, give us a call at (970) 498-0709, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.