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Want a good life? Work on good relationships.

Back in 2015, the people of Oxford County told us that the root cause of isolation, disconnection and not feeling valued was what was getting in the way of healthy, happy lives. A 75-year-old study on human development has confirmed the same thing: that good relationships--and not wealth or achievement or status--are the key to a good life.

Check out this great TED Talk from Robert Waldinger, the current director of this Harvard study, who explains that the people who do the hard work of maintaining good relationships throughout their life are those who end up happier and healthier.

Of course, relationships can be tricky business. Waldinger says: "So this message, that good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom that's as old as the hills. Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore? Well, we're human. What we'd really like is a quick fix, something we can get that'll make our lives good and keep them that way. Relationships are messy and they're complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends, it's not sexy or glamorous. It's also lifelong. It never ends."

He gave this talk towards the end of 2015, when our society was not as polarized as it seems now. It seems to me that we are quicker to judge these days, and slower to listen to one another and engage in real dialog. I'm glad that our Restorative Community Trainings are reaching more and more people, and building the skills to hold meaningful conversations that can support meaningful relationships. If you'd like to attend one of these trainings, please give Emily Knapp a call at 739-6222 and she'll make sure to let you know when the next trainings are scheduled.

The hard work of keeping good relationships may be a little harder these days, when so many issues seem to divide us: how we feel about current national, state, and local politics, what we think about how to address the crisis of addiction in our communities, how we preserve the heritage of our communities while we adapt and change to invite the future...the list goes on and on. There are plenty of headlines in the news each day to argue over, and more of our arguments spill over into social media where it's easier to "talk" without listening, and to be a bit more raw and hurtful than we might be if we were the same room talking to one another.

I think that the climate in our society is making messy relationships even messier. I also believe that we can rise above our differences, and commit to leaning in and listening to, and learning from, one another. I love the Mark Twain quote that the TED Talk closes with: "There isn't time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that."

What I take from those words is not that we should't apologize to one another, or hold one another accountable for our actions. What I hear is that we should be good to one another generally so that we can spend less time mending, and more time loving.

Life is short. Let's make it good, and stay happier and healthier, by staying connected to one another.

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