Warmheartedness: Better By Monday

“The only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness. This really brings inner strength and self-confidence, reduces fear, develops trust, and trust brings friendship. We are social animals, and cooperation is necessary for our survival, but cooperation is entirely based on trust, people are brought together-whole nations are brought together.” –Dalai Lama

Trust is wonderful. It is the reason I can get in my car and drive to work on shared roadways. I navigate between other drivers, through rain or snow, in my approximately 2,000-pound vehicle which I forget to think of as a potential weapon.  I know that if I break the rules, the car or body of another trusting driver may get damaged.

I get in my car, and I trust myself and others to get to the desired destination safely by following shared rules. Shared rules in a community make living together more civil. The regulations which community members uphold are supposed to make us better neighbors to each other.

Driving is a less personal experience because each individual rolling by me is enveloped within a metal barrier. The connection potential is blocked by a lack of contact. I can see when the rules are followed or not, but I can’t reward every good driver with my congratulations or gratitude.

When we are face to face, the rules are called etiquette.  A lack of trust between strangers, who are facing each other, is more prevalent because there are different “rules” from family to family about politeness which we aren’t sure of.

The absence of trust can make face to face interactions feel cold. We can treat each other like automatons, thinking to ourselves- just do your job (but feeling that you don’t want to have more vulnerability than necessary with a stranger). There is a way to engender trust without being too trusting, too soon.

Warmheartedness is a step towards building trust with others. It is an invitation to be seen and experienced as a fellow human being – not a driver, worker, or stranger. When we move with warmth, it conveys acceptance which is humanizing. Being seen, heard, and experienced, in small positive ways, is a place for trust to begin.

Note: The Dalai Lama spelled warmheartedness as one word in his quote and I liked it so much I followed his lead.

One Thing to Do: Think of how differently you act when you feel warmth for someone. Use that memory, water it down if needed, and make your warmth more available to others on a daily basis. 

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday: Relational Avidity

Better By MondayHow a couple, family or community communicates and works to overcome their shared challenges requires a collective commitment to mutual respect. Usually, through love and respect, a solid starting point exists for families to engage in the hard conversations. A respectful point, at which to start, is especially important when dealing with the most difficult issues. The bond of family gives members the strength to talk through tough issues together. Individual members of communities can create powerful bonds too – with the right glue.

Nature sometimes provides a handy reference point to help us understand truth about ourselves. The world of microbiology and the tiny proteins existing there can teach us a helpful principle about collaborative bonds.
Proteins are structures that are groups of other microbiological components (we won’t get into that here) held together by “bonds” – think of how the muscles and tendons combine to hold our skeleton in place. What is interesting about bonds in proteins is a particular property they exhibit that correlates quite well to how individuals and groups “take a stand” in collaborative problem solving.

In describing some properties of proteins, scientists use a term called avidity. It describes the combined strength of multiple protein bond interactions. Avidity is distinct from affinity, which is a term used to describe the strength of a single bond. By comparison, avidity is a truly special property that describes the fact that there is actually combined synergistic strength of bond affinities which are stronger than simply the sum of individual bonds.

Yes, you heard that right and it’s amazing. Avidity describes something that basically mimics what is required among people who visit my practice and are called upon to solve problems: working together makes for effective system wide change. In the seemingly off-topic world of proteins there is evidence that we are stronger together than apart.

In countless family and/or community situations we may start thinking that our way of seeing a problem is the only way and we might not listen to how someone else feels or what their perspective is. Proteins and how they are structured serve as a great reminder that there is MORE STRENGTH in our collective bonds than in the separate strength of each individual. When we reach out to hear and understand others we are not surrendering individual needs, we are creating a bond that transcends all of us and raises us all up to a better and healthier place.

It may be that collaborative problem solving is the starting point for community avidity because it promotes the desire for shared understanding, progress towards a common goal and mutual respect.

To Do: Listen to someone this week (in person or through media) and show respect for the differences between your points of view. Take note of how you were able to show respect for another person without losing your self-respect.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, ED.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can try, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.