The Most Important Ingredient for a Healthy Romance

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
There are many reasons that can be listed when trying to explain why the idea of feeling “incomplete” can only be solved by entering into a romantic relationship. Between the movies that reach blockbuster status (Jerry McGuire, anyone?) or the ideals subconsciously (or consciously) impressed upon us by our families and communities, it can be quite easy to accept the myth that we must be with someone to feel “complete”.
However, as I have learned, and as I know many of my readers have learned, if we continue to seek answers, continue to wriggle out of ideas that don’t sit well with us and try to understand why they don’t and what does, what we will thankfully realize is that each one of us is all that we need to feel happy and fulfilled. What wonderful news!
This wonderful news comes with the peace of mind in knowing that we have control over creating our own contented and joy filled life, but that also means we no longer have excuses either.
You see, if we seek out romantic relationships to make us feel better, answer our questions and bring us acceptance, then what we are doing is placing our lives in their hands emotionally.  And whether they want this control (co-dependence, not healthy), or not (they shouldn’t be burdened with the responsibility to make us happy, as they have to worry about attaining this for themselves – unfair), by entering into a relationship expecting something that we should be doing for ourselves, limits the potential of what the relationship could have been.
So how does one complete themselves?
1. Be at peace with who you are. This doesn’t mean refusing to grow, change and improve, but it does require self-awareness. By attaining this inner peace you are better able to diminish jealously and instead be excited for others successes. You are also better able to determine who should be welcomed into your life and who will serve no positive purpose.
2. Discover your purpose. (Two posts to help you begin this journey – here and here.)
3. Live simply and consciously. The main premise behind living a simply luxurious life is to rid your life of anything that does not contribute to a quality way of living, and to instead focus on welcoming in quality at all times. Consciously be aware of what thoughts you allow to enter your mind, what people you surround yourself with and the consequences and/or rewards of each decision you make.
4. Learn how to be a friend first.
 
5. Enjoy regular alone time. The best alone time can be soothing, rejuvenating and empowering. Regularly find time during your week or day (even 15 minutes) to turn off (or ignore) all technology that alerts you to messages, etc, and just breathe, savor and relax. The more often you treat yourself to these respites, the more comfortable you will be with your thoughts. And when we really slow down is when we are able to become more in tune with what we desire, need and wish for, and also what we need to address so that we can feel even more at peace.
6. Contribute positively, based on your talents and interests, to others. As children, it is often perplexing to hear from enlightened adults that the best gifts are the ones you give to others. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized this is without a doubt a gem of wisdom. When we hone in on what our talents are and use them to help, assist or bring something positive into other people’s lives, the feeling itself is the best gift. And if you’re lucky enough to find a career that incorporates your talents and contributing to society, you’re well on your way.
7. Master your thoughts and your fears. Life will always be hurling a menagerie of ideas and images at us – uplifting and depressing ones. However, once we master what to do with each, we control our success or downfall. Welcome in the inspiring, challenging, yet uplifting, and sift out the disheartening and cynical. Your mind is a wonderful tool, so be sure to use it for aiding your journey, rather than catapulting it where you don’t want it to go.
8. Find people with similar interests and tastes. Join a French alliance where they meet once a week at a local cafe to speak entirely in French, find a running/walking club, volunteer at the art center, join the garden club, become a member of a wine club. Seek out activities, clubs and community events that bring together people with similar interests and you are bound to build a strong social network where your passions can blossom and grow.
9. Continue to challenge yourself. Remain curious and always willing to learn and see life from different perspectives. Whether through regular travel, learning a new hobby or continually reading books that open your mind to science, history, current events or anything that you are curious about, always seek knowledge to learn more about yourself, others and the world in which you live.
10. Follow a regular exercise regimen for a sound body AND mind. The second, and no less important, benefit of exercise is that it frees the mind, helps to relieve tension and stress, thus creating a state of relaxation following the workout.
11. Pay attention to who you surround yourself with. Similar to the food we fuel our bodies with, if we eat well, we strength our physical body. So too if we surround ourselves with supportive, inspiring, uplifting people, we can’t help but be influenced.
Once you are able to feel complete on your own, this is not to say that the next relationship will magically work out for the rest of eternity. Relationships will still only go as far as they are meant to, but at least you will be a strong person, capable of seeing what is working, what isn’t and be able to move forward should you both choose to go your separate ways.
Once you realize and accept the responsibility of discovering your own contentedness, you will be able to enjoy life no matter what your relationship status, and when you choose to be in a relationship it will be for the right reasons.
Images: (1) pinterest
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Comments

  1. This is such a meaningful and lovely post, Shannon. And it really exemplifies why I love your blog so much! Keep up the great work :)

  2. Someone just asked me for a list of my three favorite blogs. I can happily say that yours made my list because of posts like these.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ever since I found your blog Shannon, I have come back almost on a daily basis. I think your authentic voice speaks to many, many womens’ authentic selves. Thank you for sharing who you are with your readers. Is your Ask Shannon email de-activated?

  4. Stephanie says:

    I agree with alot of what was said here, but I’m always just a little bit cautious with such topics that are all about the idea that you’re not supposed to look to your partner for happiness, you must find it within yourself, etc. Personally, I find that a smidge mis-leading. I believe that being in a strong, committed relationship is one of the greatest joys out there and when you’re in one, you WANT to make the other person happy and feel it reciprocated. Humans are also born to want to connect, so I think that the desire to share your life with a partner, a best friend, and to know you will gain happiness from it is an important feeling that should not be dismissed. This is not to be confused with relying on someone to fix your issues or life problems.

    I also think that there is a time and a place for different forms of happiness and they are just that, different. Being happy as a single is a different type of happiness than being happy in a couple. One is not better than the other. Sometimes I feel as though articles of this nature try to make us feel as though happiness, developed through ourselves alone, should be the ultimate goal and to want anything different (ie. sharing) could translate to being “dependent”. I know many people who led happy, indepedent lives when they were single and are now happily coupled. But if their spouse has to be away from them for awhile or something happens, they are sad, they miss them, they’d prefer them to be around. To me, this is normal and natural.

    I do think you have to develop a sense of comfortableness and independence with your life as a single. But there is nothing wrong with desiring, and having as a goal which will contribute to your overall happiness, to share your life with someone.

    I am single, comfortable, independent and relatively happy. I have all that I could want as a single. I desire a relationship and I know it will be a big source of happiness to me. I am not afraid to admit that I want it, want it big (I think sometimes people, women especially, try to pretend that they don’t really want it when they actually do). But I can still make plans and live a happy life until it comes along. However, I can’t wait for the increased joy and happiness that will come from sharing my life with someone, and I know my life will be even better, happier, because of it.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment!

    • Stephanie,

      I love your willingness to be so forthright. Please know, I think you misunderstood the intention of this particular post.
      Based on my experience and speaking with those in respectful, loving and committed relationships, the best thing you can bring to creating a fulfilling relationship is someone who is secure in who they are, what they want and need and the realization that the person they are entering into a relationship is not responsible to make them happy, but to heighten what they already know and enjoy.
      Conversely, people who get involved in relationships who are malleable and unclear of what they have to offer life in general bring with them a weight that burdens the potential of the relationship blossoming into what they may have desired.
      So regardless of whether someone wants a relationship, family, kids or a contented life being single, true fulfillment is the first step to any of these end results working out successfully.

  5. Stephanie says:

    P.S. Regarding the idea of feeling “complete”. I think completeness comes moreso from a sense that you have whatever it is that you desire in life, I don’t think it’s specific to being in a couple. If one of your big wishes/wants was to get married and have a family, then that WOULD probably add to a feeling of completeness in your life. If it’s not, then okay. Maybe it’s something else. If you had a great romantic partner, but weren’t getting anywhere in terms of the career you wanted and that was a big wish, would you feel complete?

    I think completness is just too individualized to generalize. For myself personally, I want to get married, and I want to raise a family. If I never got those things, I would not feel as though my life had been complete. It would feel unfinished. I certainly don’t think that way or fear about it, but just as an example.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to complete your life with a goal or a wish, whatever it may be. I realize life throws us twist and turns, but everyone has desires for their own life. Just my thoughts.

  6. This is fantastic and right on point. My parents always raised me to be happy and dependent on myself, so I was always so confused when most of my friends sought out happiness by involving themselves in bad relationships. It was not great for their self-esteem or their wellbeing. Great topic you picked this week!

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