Here’s an excerpt from an article I read recently:
I am a hospice chaplain. I visit people who are dying – in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes. And if you were to ask me the same question: What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer: Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.
They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.
They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not. And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents: Mama, Daddy, Mother.
We don’t live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories. We live our lives in our families: the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.
This is where we create our lives, this is where we find meaning, this is where our purpose becomes clear.
On your deathbed, you won’t be thinking about work or money or some social cause. You’ll be thinking about your family and friends. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend those last hours in regret.
The brave new life is all about achieving a peaceful and joyful state of mind, and having good relationships is a requirement to achieve this. Because of this, it’s important to not only enjoy your relationships, but also to actively nurture them. Just as a garden won’t flourish without proper nourishment, neither will your relationships.
There are many ways to nurture a relationship, but I think there are a few fundamental ways that will work regardless of the type of relationship. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, kids, boss, friend or neighbor – these 8 methods will always make your relationship stronger:
- Use open and honest communication
- Be flexible and willing to compromise
- Be reliable
- Offer emotional support
- Make situations more fun
- Be quick to offer forgiveness and to ask for forgiveness
- Admit your mistakes
- Respect the person
Just as frugality, self-sufficiency, and the other core principles each require deliberate effort, so does nurturing your relationships. It’s important to look at each relationship that you value, and reflect on whether you are properly nurturing it. Be honest with yourself about it.
And the benefits of having good relationships aren’t limited to just the satisfaction of having good friends and family. Much like the other core principles, nourishing and having good relationships intertwines with the other principles of the brave new life. Having good friends and family that you can rely on (and who can rely on you) is a widening of your self-sufficient community. Need a baby-sitter? There’s no need to pay, you can just have your neighbor watch your kids tonight, and you can do the same for her tomorrow night. Your car AC isn’t working? There’s no reason to pay $100 for an anonymous mechanic to add refrigerant, your buddy knows how to do it and he’ll do it for a 6-pack of beer. I’d surely prefer sharing beers in the driveway with a buddy over paying $100 to sit in the mechanics lobby. This is communal self-sufficiency at it’s best!
Conveniently, as you become more self-sufficient you’ll also be able to help your friends with things they are not yet self-sufficient at. This, of course, will further strengthen that relationship. Thus, a positive feedback loop is built.
The Visualization of the Brave New Life
As we continue with this series, we’ll see that positive and reliable relationships will further support future core principles. For now, let’s take a look at how the brave new life is coming together.
(click to enlarge)