The quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships.
This has been confirmed by an ongoing Harvard study, which revealed that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives…Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”
The director of the Harvard study wisely observed that “tending to your relationships is a form of self–care.”
If close relationships are what keep you happy and protect your health, then it’s crucial for you to know how to maintain and improve those relationships. Relationships must be kept in constant repair if they are to survive and thrive.
There is one thing you can do to radically improve any relationship: seek to understand.
Relationships need Understanding
The foundation to any relationship is communication. Sharing feelings, thoughts, and experiences. But communication turns to static if there is no understanding.
Understanding is the radio that allows you to pick up the signals of meaning that the other person is broadcasting. If your radio of understanding is disconnected or weak, your reception of the broadcast will be compromised. On the other hand, if your radio of understanding is strong, you’ll be able to pick up the signals from others.
Soulmates understand each other. Best friends understand each other. Collaborators understand each other. Understanding is a key component in relationships.
Understanding is the jazz of relationships
Have you ever seen or heard a jazz group perform? It is incredible how a collection of musicians can create space for each other to instrumentally riff and give expression to their own personality, while at the same time maintaining a cohesive and coherent sound.
The best example of this can be found on the album Kind of Blue. Here, listen to this:
Recorded by an all star group of jazz musicians more than a half century ago, Kind of Blue stands as one of the greatest albums of all time. In large part because Miles Davis and company perfectly create musical understanding.
On every track, each musician takes a turn soloing for a number of bars. The soloist is able to comfortably improvise because the other musicians create the space. You can hear the piano cooly riffs, the trumpet smoothly bleats, the saxophones rhythmically flutter, the drums beat in time, and the bass walks in swinging strides.
If you want to radically improve any relationship, be like a jazz musician and create the space and understanding for the other person to solo.
Understanding is a rare gift in modern relationships
At the core of each human being is the desire to be understood. And when a person offers understanding, they are fulfilling an innate desire in us. This is one reason why understanding is such a precious gift.
Another reason is because seeking understanding is so scarce in modern society. We are too busy clamoring for the attention of others. Usually in order to sell something. We live in a world fighting for our attention. Ads, media, entertainment, “news,” social issues, current events, special interests, and so much more. They all want attention. Not to mention the attention demanded by fear, anxiety, doubt, regret, shame, anger, pain.
In such an environment, the rarest and most precious thing you can offer to another is your undivided attention. When you give your attention, you pave the way for understanding.
There is a shortage of understanding in the world. It’s why there are people screaming at each other on t.v. and in social media. Lack of understanding is also one reason why so many in the world today feel disconnected.
By seeking to understand, you become a Sherlock Holmes of sorts. One that is able to comprehend, while the rest fumble about not realizing what’s going on.
Relationships are key to happiness and health. You can radically improve any relationship by seeking to understand the other person. Understanding is an essential component of any relationship. Create understanding like a jazz musician who offers space to a fellow musician. One of the rarest gifts you can give and have, is to understand others.
Thank you for reading!
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If you would like to radically improve your relationships, schedule a call with me today.