Notes from the Founder: How to Nurture Your Relationships
Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher, of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, shares his wisdom about creating a healthy, happy life that helps transform the world.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s a great time to think about the love that’s in your life. Not just romantic love, but also the connection you have with your friends, family, colleagues, and even pets. We all have a need to give and receive love. Love is food for the soul. Love nourishes the body, mind and spirit.
I’ve coached many people who, though they ate extremely healthily, still struggled to be well. It wasn’t that they lacked broccoli. What they were missing was healthy relationships to nourish them. Food was secondary. Once they worked on improving the quality of their relationships, their health and life improved.
Healthy relationships are part of what I call primary food – the aspects of life that nourish your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. Love is one of the most important of the primary foods, which is why I call it Vitamin L.
To boost your daily Vitamin L and bring more love and intimacy into your life, I suggest examining your current relationships. Being well connected with others – husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, children, friends, family and co-workers – is an essential part of life. We all feel a sense of comfort and safety when we are free to express our hopes and struggles with the people we are close to.
Effective speaking and listening are crucial to stay connected and nourish one another. Most people live in their heads, thinking about what they have to do tomorrow or what happened an hour ago – pretty much anything but the present moment. It’s equally unusual that we truly listen to another person without interrupting or planning what we’ll say next.
By harnessing the power of listening, you can greatly improve all your relationships. I recommend scheduling a specific time when both people have enough time and space to discuss delicate issues in a calm and sincere way. Like a state of the union.
Begin by sharing something positive, and take turns. Each partner should speak for as long as they want about everything that’s going well in the relationship. Allow yourself to verbalize and appreciate the other person. Then switch to the other person.
Take turns talking about one or two aspects of your relationship that you wish to improve. Repeat the same structure, allowing each person to fully express themselves while the other listens carefully, and then switch. You can fix challenges more easily when you clearly understand what each other wants. Practice communicating without blame and strive to offer solutions. You are each other’s primary food, and you are fine-tuning the recipe for long-term satisfaction.
We are all starving to be heard. Healing occurs when people listen. Through the power of listening, you can greatly improve all of your relationships.
How are the communication channels in your relationships? What can you do to improve them? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!