It’s all about relationships.
This has been a longstanding core belief to me — the idea that everything is interconnected and that life is largely about discovering and improving the many relationships we have.
Relationships are at the heart of the two most basic motivators of human behavior: fear and love. Let’s look at fear first….
Fear generally stems from the idea of “missing out” or being excluded. Our greatest fears (including death itself) often center on our not being around or being left alone — in being “disconnected” from life. So we fear exclusion and isolation, and we crave inclusion and belonging.
This desire to be included is hardwired as a survival instinct in our DNA. No animal wants to be separated (or shunned) from the relative safety of the tribe. To survive and thrive, we seek belonging and acceptance. We are social creatures that physically and emotionally depend on each other. And so our need for connection and relationship with others has an evolutionary function: truly “no man is an island” — we’re all linked together to achieve our common goal of survival.
Our relationships drive our behavior; being accepted and having fulfilling relationships are primary motivators that lead to happiness. But not just any connection will do; we often seek relationships that might be described as “deep” or “meaningful,” and which are characterized more by their quality than quantity.
Friendships provide the greatest source of support and encouragement, along with the impetus to grow. In friendships, we experience (and offer) understanding, acceptance and inclusion in an intimately personal and direct way… and this, of course, is the experience of love.
So love is expressed in inclusion and belonging; love is acceptance and a lack of rejection. Love is the antithesis of fear; love dissolves barriers and apprehension. In our lifelong task of developing relationships, being motivated by love is a much better way to extend the quality and depth of our connections with others.
It’s all about relationships because relationships connect us, and these connections unify us and ultimately make us happy. And what’s the best way to form meaningful connections with others? To live a life of love, which erases lines of division and allows us to experience oneness.