Sometimes when I want to calm my brain at night from the day’s activities, I watch a program about the vastness of the universe. Listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson describe the universe and black holes, I soon rise above the petty concerns of the day. It’s a big universe out there, and although I am in it, my concerns are a bit part of it.
I recently learned from Neil that all the planets, stars, and galaxies are in a relationship with each other:
“We are all connected; to each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.”
Richard Rohr, founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque NM, observes:
“The energy in the universe is not in the planets or in the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them.”
The universe is a system where each part does not stand alone. Nor do we.
Too often, I hear people remark, “I like being alone. I don’t need to be around people.” I hear leaders say: “It’s better to lock myself in my office in front of a screen than deal with my co-workers!” True, others can be tough to relate to and understand, and so can we.
Yet in his studies, social psychologist Dr. Chris Peterson discovered that “there are no happy hermits.”
Relationships hold us together—as families, as businesses, in community organizations. The health and well-being of these systems and their people depend on the quality of their relationships.
Relationships are not “one-walk-a-day dogs,” as my graduate school professor often said. They need timely attention, nurturing and a willingness to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes instead of reacting to the story we create about them. This may require us to calm our egos while interacting with others. People have many facets; there is more to them than how they show up at work.
Yes, this takes attention and energy. However, what happens when we don’t do this? Loneliness, a significant health issue, increases. We become more disengaged. We may feel more estranged from others—less understood. At work, emails replace face to face conversations. Silos shut down cross-functional relationships. Companies’ missions are lost in the walls built. Reactivity increases, and rational thinking decreases. Negative comments become the norm and pollute good intentions. Polarization results, which tears communities and even countries apart.
In the universe, however, there seems to be an innate intelligence that makes the objects stay in a relationship with each other. The parts, matter, and energy need each other to function well.
As do we. The more we can understand each other, allowing for the give and take that supports everyday life, the better our systems function. The better we function! Relationship deepening allows for a life that has meaning, connection, and joy, where we participate with energy and movement.
Let’s take some lessons from the Universe – after all, it’s been around longer than you and I.
Rosemarie Perla, MS, MA
Psychologist and Leadership Development Coach