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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Be a "Family Man" (or Woman)

There's an old saying: "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family."

Hogwash.

I've been choosing my family for years.

Oh, I get along fine with my own family. But they're half a world away. In Japan for five years, and now in my sixth year in China, I find it's essential to develop deep, familial relationships with people nearby.

So what, exactly, is "family"?

When we look up definitions (beyond the literal meanings of blood ties and marriage) we find words like "sense of belonging," "identity," "support," "security," "care," and "trust."

Who, in your life, provides you with those things?

Do you offer them those things in return?

Then that's your family.

Next question: Have you told them that you value them as family?

By the way, it's entirely possible that the people we're talking about, the ones you can rely on for support, identity, etc., are your blood relatives or in-laws.

But you still need to tell 'em how you feel.

When you do, you'll validate the exchange that goes on between you, and strengthen your place in the "family," biological or otherwise.

And you'll be happier.

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