How many times I have heard and lectured to others about the importance of relationships? The most recent Stanford study showed the best reason for people to feel happiness is from the relationship with others.
As a student teacher many decades ago, I tried to apply this as hard as I could so I could impress my evaluator. I memorized all students’ names. I visited individual students while being a classroom student teacher. I hang out with these 3rd graders during recesses. I listened to students as often as I could. Still, my evaluator wrote me, “You have to build a good relationship,” in the final evaluation form. I was stuck on what the good relationship was. Did I build a good relationship with her?
After I was hired in the middle school, I refused to build any relationships. The reasons I excused at the time were; one, this school was not my choice, two, teenage students were too disrespectful to build good relationships with me. Needless to say, it was the worse than worst school year you could imagine. I was exhausted and feeling miserable.
Those memories brought me back to when I was in Elementary School. I was outgoing for the most part, but I was afraid of making connections to certain people. Keiko was in my 2nd grade class, who had special needs. Just because my teacher assigned me to help her, I organized her things and put them into her backpack. A couple of days later, Keiko’s mom appeared in school and thanked me, “Oh, Keiko is so happy because you are always helpful to her. Thank you very much.” My stomach churned. I wanted to say it was my teacher’s idea, not mine, but I couldn’t. I felt even worse.
In 5th grade, our teacher gave a lot of “Team Tasks” on us. When I was done, I had to help my teammates. It turned out I became a personal tutor for one particular student in my group. Obviously he couldn’t comprehend or perform what our teacher required. I was reluctant, but I did because that was what the teacher told us to do. He was always quiet, and I didn’t expect much from anyone. 30 years later, one of my former classmates mentioned about him in the reunion, “He told me he liked you because you were always helpful for his math.” I was embarrassed to share how I felt about “helping” him.
What taught me from these experiences are; 1) you cannot build a relationship for someone else who are not involved in the relationship. When you have closed mind, good relationship wouldn’t happen. You must be genuine. 2) That leads to the self awareness. Why do you want to build a good relationship? Why do you want to keep connecting to certain people? If you recognize yourself as happy when you feel connected to someone, it is powerful. It is not too easy to be aware of your emotion, but it’s not too difficult, either. 3) Kindness of any kinds will open a door of a relationship. A little act of kindness can make someone happy. If you received the kind acts from someone, you would want to connect to that person.
If you desire the life changing experiences, plant some seeds, by smiling, giving complement, listening, inviting a game, and having lunch together. Soon your life will be full-filled from connections you planted. They grow and bloom in your entire life.