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Published:April 5th, 2010 11:21 EST

Relationships (Part Two)

By Ignatius Fernandez

Relationships (Part One)

i love you

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson echoes the words of Benjamin Franklin, which appeared at the end of Part One of this series. The two affirm that helping others is helping oneself; that being good to others is being good to oneself; that the loop of life is not complete without others in it. Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian Philosopher, imposes a condition on our happiness, when he writes: The way to be happy is by making others happy ". If we do not fulfill the condition of making others happy, we become unhappy. John Bradshaw, in his book, Creating Love, is certain: One cannot fully love oneself without wanting to pass it on and share it with others ". More and more great thinkers share the view that happiness in our lives is dependent on how happy we make others. They contend that the happier our relationships, the better the quality of our lives.

Normally, we forge relationships with those who we are attracted to; those who are agreeable; those who interact with us easily. To cultivate happy and healthy relationships we need to look outside the normal; we should consider a paradigm shift:  The onus is on me (and not on the other person) to be agreeable and to be attractive enough for someone to want to relate to me. When this shift is accepted and acted on, other variables fall in place. Such a shift calls for an examination of conscience to delve deep into the inner recesses of my being to find blocks to the free flow of love. Unless I find those blocks I can do nothing to remove them. Is my bloated ego a huge block? Are my priorities jumbled? Are my demands on others unreasonable? Is my view of life lop-sided? These are few among the many questions I shall have to ask myself. When I find honest answers and am willing to work on my deficiencies, I would have unclogged the passages that allow love to flow free.

The flip side of such a paradigm shift is to consciously find goodness in others, because even in the worst of us there is some goodness, if only we have eyes of compassion. In words from the heart, Thomas Moore teaches: Love allows a person to see the true angelic nature of another person, the halo, the aureole divinity ". How do we read his words? Happy relationships cannot be built without compassionate understanding and maturity. It is no wonder then that relationships which start with great promise end badly, with the parties to the relationship lacking in compassion and maturity.

Is the effort of becoming compassionate and mature worth it? Rephrased, why are happy relationships necessary and important? Charles M. Rossiter and W. Barnett Pearce provide the answer: When we experience warm, close, friendly relationships, our lives are fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying. When we do not, we feel alone, unloved and empty ". Those are strong reasons for us to build bridges and not raise barriers.