Cultivating Relationships

Once upon a time, there was a group of 50 people attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity. He gave each attendee one balloon. Each person was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put into another room.

They were then let into that room and asked to find their balloon within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, and pushing others around in utter chaos; and at the end of the 5 minutes, no one had found their own balloon. Then, each individual was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.

The speaker then began, “This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is. Our happiness, he said, lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness. And this is the purpose of human life…the pursuit of happiness.”

In this story, we see that any one individual could not complete the task alone; they indeed needed the assistance of another. In our stubbornness, we can be quite adamant in our determination to accomplish life’s challenges on an individual basis. After all, if we go it alone and succeed, we gain all the accolades. However, life requires balance and social interaction is critical for mental and physical wellness. We each are born into a society that provides structure to our lives as it helps us to navigate the world and shape our personal identities. In that societal environment, we can find strength from collaboration in the face of adversity. And in that respect, perhaps pleasure and meaning can be found by valuing people more than things.

Another caveat of the story is the premise that by doing things for others to make them happy, we improve our emotional outcome. By giving to others, we give to ourselves, allowing the beauty of life to return, full circle.

In the World Happiness Report, the magnitude of social support experienced was listed as a key indicator to happiness. A Harvard Study looked at the correlation between happiness and the healthiness of our relationships. “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health,” said Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.”

Tips to help with your relationship cultivation:

Be authentic: Authenticity is about being true to yourself and behaving as the ‘true you’ in any and all circumstance. When you can be yourself and love who you are, you will draw in others that align with who you are, those who can bring depth to your presence and a coalition to your dreams and activities. When you engage in those dreams and activities with likeminded souls, joy enfolds.

Act with integrity: Integrity is a bit like ISO 9000 requirements, which involves saying what you’re going to do, then doing what you say. Integrity involves telling the truth, even when it’s ugly, and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. When someone lacks integrity, they appear dishonest and untrustworthy. Aim to live in accordance to your deepest values, to be honest with everyone, and to always keep your word.

Be reliable: Be that person that can be counted on when the need arises, to consistently show up for others. If you behave in an unreliable manner, you basically make yourself disposable. Reliability creates stability in a relationship, it creates a structure that enhances trust and endurance. When your friends know that they can rely on you, you provide them calm assurance and a window into your other endearing traits.

Practice healthy communication: How we communicate with others can provide a framework for safe and healthy perspectives. Conversing in a healthy manner leads to clarity and greater empathy of each person’s feelings. Your non-verbal communication, or body language, can provide even more insight into how you’re feeling, perhaps more than words ever could. Be open and honest about your feelings and if things do escalate, always fight fair.

Be available: Being both physically and emotionally available is key to relationship longevity. Be willing to set aside time to spend with that special person and when you are with them, also be emotionally present. Be open with your thoughts and feelings and take time to listen to their questions, comments, and words of wisdom. Engage in meaningful activities while allowing creativity and adventure to flow.

Be willing to say you’re sorry and to forgive. We cannot and should not operate on an island. We were meant to interact with others, which can sometimes lead to conflict. Seek a mutual resolution when possible. If you are at fault, claim it. If they are at fault, forgive them. Seek to understand first, do not make assumptions, and give them the benefit of the doubt. When we make unhealthy assumptions, we create potential unnecessary angst and turbulence. Since we have not walked in the footsteps of others, judgment should be withheld.

Now I’d like to warn you of a pitfall with regards to the cultivation of relationships, and that is the expectation that someone else needs to make you happy. Yes, it’s true that meaningful relationships improve feelings of wellness, however, ultimately, happiness is an inside job. Depending on someone else to make you happy is giving up your power. If you give them the power to make you happy, you also give them the power to make you unhappy. You, and only you, are responsible for your joy. Don’t require someone else to fulfill that requirement. The reverse can also be emphasized. Don’t hold yourself responsible for someone else’s happiness. This mentality can keep you involved in a harmful relationship, simply because you do not want to disturb or disappoint the other. A healthy relationship does not put the burden of feeling happy on someone else. You do you first, making sure that your relationship with you is your first and foremost priority.

Relationships of all sorts, including those with pets, are a wonderful opportunity to experience great joy. We can laugh alone, but it doesn’t stir the soul like a hearty laughter with friends. Relationships provide love, safety, a sense of security, and that feel good hormone oxytocin. We can meander the storms alone, or dance in the rain with those we love. If you are feeling especially lonely, take the horse by the reins. Someone else may be feeling the same. There are various ways to seek out friendships. The internet provides great opportunities to join with other groups. There are Facebook groups, Meetup groups, and even Nextdoor groups. There are book clubs, sporting events, and churches. Consider a class in something you would love to learn. Set an intention to not only cherish the relationships you currently have, but to expand your territory into new ones.

“You will know a good friend when you are intoxicated with each other’s company because everything becomes good in the world.” ~Donald Pillai

Spirit of Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving Day approaches here in the US, it’s a time to give thanks to the people, circumstances, and gifts in our lives. As a fun way to illicit that spirit of thanksgiving in others, we can provide a gift to someone or to a community in need. May the following testimony open your heart and warm your soul.

“To the man in line behind me at the Gainesville Target, who saw that after hitting my grocery budget limit, I decided to put back my pumpkin spice candle and the cosmetics that I had picked out…

You didn’t know that I always save my stuff for last and usually end up putting it back.

You didn’t know that the two fussy kids that I had with me were only two out of four.

You didn’t know that I have postpartum depression from the youngest babe and that I use scent as a way to boost my mood.

You didn’t know that this week has been full of sick kids, parent-teacher conferences, and emergency dental visits and I was so looking forward to lighting that candle at nap time and just taking a minute to relax.

Even without knowing that, you saw me…  You saw me as a human, not just the mom in front of you that was distracted and going too slow. You heard me say that I’d like to put those items back and you said no, you would be getting them for me.”

This commentary, courtesy of “Love What Matters,” speaks to the challenges faced by those around us. It could be a person you failed to see because you were caught up in your own world, your own thoughts, your own purpose. We all struggle at times, but just remember, there is always someone struggling more. Always be kind, you never know what someone is going through. Take a moment when you are about your errands, to be situationally aware. Look for those opportunities to bless others. The returns are 10 fold, and in doing so, you also bless yourself.

In a bigger picture, the In the Spirit of Love Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization founded to help those in need. Each person is naturally born with a Spirit of Love. The foundations mission is to encourage each heart to live that Love. We are always looking to expand our reach thru hearts across the world who want to make a difference. Where there is great love, there is always miracles.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/ChIRsmhpNjc/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The hungry children of Uganda, are but a fraction of those in need. Everyone is made to LOVE and be LOVED – Make a decision to LOVE others unconditionally. Don’t LOVE based on how someone treats you or how they look, simply just LOVE period! Challenge yourself to LOVE others because it is in your heart … it is who you are! When you let LOVE lead, you will be amazed at just how many miracles come through your acts of kindness. We thank you for your generosity and look forward to continuing with our mission through the tax deductible goodness of others.

You may go here to donate to the cause of love, with an option to designate the proceeds as you please.

You Matter

Sometimes a simple text, phone call, or email to check on someone makes a big difference. People need to know they matter. Life gets busy and most understand that but when you take a moment to Live it! By brightening someone’s day, the world gets a little brighter.

Who can you reach out to today to put a smile on their face and let them know they matter in this world?

Never underestimate the power of kindness for where there is great Love there are Miracles.

Live it!

❤️ Subscribe to our email list and follow us on Instagram @inthespiritoflove_ for Inspiration to live Love and kindness on this earth.✨❤️

Leave Your Imprint On This World

Each day brings an opportunity to impact the lives around you in a positive way. People will not remember what position you held, what clothes you wore, what car you drove, or the house you lived in but they will remember how you made them feel. You can leave an amazing imprint in this world by being kind, considerate, and loving.

The people in your life and inner circle right now are not a coincidence. You are meant to have a positive impact on the lives around you.

Live it!

Light Up the World!

We have all witnessed when someone walks into the room and the whole room LIGHTS UP! They bring so much joy, light, kindness, and positivity! It is like a breath of fresh air!

Be that person!

You have a choice to bring goodness and positivity into this world or darkness and negativity. When you choose to bring goodness, you are the one walking into the room changing the atmosphere. Never underestimate the impact you have on others each day. Your smile and kind words can change everything. Live it!

Join us in bringing much-needed Love to the world.

Volunteer.

There are volunteer opportunities all around you. 💖 You can make a difference.😇

Some are in a position to make financial donations and others are not. It is not about the money. It is about the impact on a human life. 

Volunteer. 

If you have not volunteered before, it will be one of the most rewarding things you have done. If you are afraid, do it afraid. Face your fears and selflessly step forward to share the Love in your heart. If you have volunteered but it has been a while, we encourage you to volunteer. Someone needs your smile, hug, and helping hand. Live it!

Be The Change This World Needs

You can make a difference in making this world a better place. Many people don’t even try because it seems so overwhelming. But imagine if each person acted in kindness, extended a helping hand and cared for others. What a wonderful world it would be!

A couple of fun kindness health facts from Dartmouth.edu:

“Kindness is contagious! The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people!”

And!

Did you know that “Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving your overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re in anxious or shy in a social situation.”

So never underestimate the difference a single act of kindness can make to the one you are helping and those who witnessed your act of kindness. You can change the world one heart at a time. 

Be the Change.

Managing Stress

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

To their surprise she answered, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed—incapable of doing anything.”

The National Institute of Health defines stress as a physical and emotional reaction to life change, while the dictionary defines it as the total response to environmental demands or pressures. There seems a recurrent disagreement among researchers regarding the definition of stress in humans, but one thing is for sure, there seems an inverse correlation between happiness or joy, and stress response. The cause of a stress response can include any event or occurrence that someone considers a threat to his or her coping strategies or resources.

Good stress or eustress, is not so much a concern. That is the stress you feel when excited. Your pulse quickens and your hormones surge, but there is no threat or fear experienced. The negative stress that we are stressing here (pun intended) is the stress that interferes with our ability to get things done, affects relationships and our overall quality of life.

A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing examined the relationship among hardiness, perceived stress, and happiness in nurses. The study revealed that nurses with a hardy attitude evaluated situations as less stressful, which resulted in higher happiness.

Hardiness allows a person to withstand physical and psychological stress without developing physical illness. This mindset views difficulties and stressful situations as personal challenges, rather than as roadblocks, and allows for personal growth in the face of adversity. So we again are looking at perception, how we think and how we view the world around us. So it would seem that a key to hardiness, resilience, and managing stress, is having a healthy mental response. It helps to be mindful of your stress response and to work towards more positive thought patterns to assist in coping.

Techniques to manage stress:

  1. Talk confidently to Someone you trust about the event or person that has caused the stress. Just knowing that you have someone in your corner that is supportive and can provide a healthy perspective will provide some measure of liberation. It leads to catharsis, that feeling of relief, and it may even lead to a solution.
  2. Practice deep breathing to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed, our breathing changes, becoming more shallow, affecting our ability to think clearly and feel alert. Practice breathing long slow breaths, breathe in while counting to seven, holding for a count, then releasing for another count of seven.
  3. Practice meditation to calm the mind. Meditation is widely known to reverse the stress response by changing focus and eliminating the stream of thoughts that can lead or contribute to stress. In the 2018 study that relied on the Headspace app, meditation was shown to reduce stress by 14% over 10 days. MRI scans have shown that a regular meditation practice can shrink the amygdala, which helps us respond rather than react to stressful events. If meditation seems difficult, there are apps available for download. Find the one that speaks to you.
  4. Enjoy regular physical activity to reduce levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Endorphin-release via exercise boosts pleasure and results in a feeling of well-being. This release occurs after about 30 minutes of activity, so make that your benchmark. Find time to fit in some activity, even if it’s just a walk at lunchtime.
  5. Enjoy comedy at home or away. If you live in a bigger city, comedy clubs are available. Otherwise, watch some comedy on the television at home. As we’ve discussed, laughter creates positive physical changes in the body and lightens the mental load.
  6. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings to release the tension and any pent-up emotions. Feel free to expose whatever feelings comes up and let it flow. The content which you choose to write or type can be kept private. Don’t strive for perfection nor worry about grammar or spelling. This is your time to let loose and vent.
  7. Utilize the power of music to lighten the load. Music of slower tempo can quiet the mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Current research finds that 60 bpm can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves. The alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. Interestingly, Native American, Celtic, Indian Stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be helpful, particularly when mixed with soothing music. An app may help with this endeavor also.
  8. Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are realistic. It’s quite possible that the person that is hardest on you regarding expectations, is you. You should not be expected to operate at 100% efficiency at all times and at everything you do. Be mindful of what you can control and try to accept that which you cannot. You are essentially an army of one, and only one. Focus on what you have accomplished, not what’s left on the table.
  9. Take a long hot soak in the tub or visit a sauna. A hot bath will relax the muscles and calm the mind. Consider adding another method to the mix, music, journaling, talking to a friend, and or the practice deep breathing.
  10. Embrace the benefits of a good hug. Although not technically proven by science, the late psychotherapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth. When we experience a hug, our body releases oxytocin, also known as the ‘bonding hormone.’ Your heart rate slows down, cortisol and norepinephrine levels drop and those feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, increase.
  11. Practice reframing the negative situation into a more positive or even neutral event. Also, try to examine the big picture, realizing that this particular stress event may be inconsequential to the overall goal or finish line. You might also consider some potential positive outcomes to this situation? Consider this formula:

A + B = C ;   Affair + Behavior = Consequence

You cannot change the event or Affair that has already taken place, but by changing your response or behavior, you change the outcome or consequence. You are in control over how you will feel in the end.

  1. Improve your planning to reduce overwhelm and create a sense of control. Consider daily checklists, a calendar or planner, and/or even sticky notes to manage thoughts and goals. Stress management research by Robert Epstein has exposed how stress can be managed through planning.
  2. Consider adaptogen supplementation toassist the body in finding homeostasis and to calm the chaos. Viable options include ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, and Rhodiola.

In reality, stress is unavoidable. The big question is, what do you do with it? It’s quite possible that the amount of stress you are feeling may be directly related to your perception of the event. How you choose to frame any situation or person, correlates directly with your stress response. For example, it is quite possible for two people to experience the same event, yet to respond very differently. How you respond to the event has been shown to be more important than the actual situation itself.

You need not let stress affect your ability to feel joy. If the event cannot be changed, work to change your response to the event, while adding mitigation strategies to bring about a sense of calm. While these techniques can be quite helpful in managing stress and therefore increasing joy and that sense of well-being, it also works the other way. Being joyful mitigates or assists with the stress response, therefore, increasing your joy should reduce your stress. You have more control of your feelings and emotions than you might realize and even baby steps towards improvement can accumulate into healthy rewards.

“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” ~Astrid Alauda

The Value of Self

We’ve mentioned self-care in other blogs, yet it is so important that we will expand on it here to include self-love. What does it mean to love yourself or to practice self-love? Were you taught that this is a bad thing, that it is selfish, that you should instead be selfless? We should indeed aspire to show love to others but, in reality, the love and acceptance of self is one of the greatest requirements to happiness and long lasting relationships. When the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting another, it is for good reason. You simply cannot take care of (love) another if you cannot take care of (love) yourself primarily.

Research not only points to the benefits of self-love, but it also shows that self-criticism is comparable to self-sabotage. It actually hurts performance, productivity and well-being. Expressing as a people-pleaser, for example, may seem altruistic, but in reality, it’s a call for self-love. It is the needing/wanting of validation from others while ignoring the true value of yourself. It’s chasing after love that already lies within you. The truth is, you are wonderfully made, special, with a history and purpose unique to you. If you believe in your value and honor yourself, you need no other person(s) to shower you with praises. You know your worth.

Perspective is key. How you view your past can directly affect how you value self. Are you hard on yourself for the past experiences that you deem as mistakes? Perhaps mistakes should be redefined as ‘opportunities to learn and grow.’ After all, it is through our mistakes that we find personal growth, learning and meaning. Through mistakes we can determine what we want and don’t want, what we need and don’t need. It may be time to appreciate past ‘mistakes’ as a stepping stone to something greater. Be compassionate with yourself. You are in the process of evolving into something truly magnificent. Life is a process of learning and change. Embrace all that life brings your way. It has and will continue to make you who you are. In the meantime, guard your thoughts about self.

Start keeping track of judgmental thoughts you have about yourself and others. Write them in your journal, then rewrite them with a focus to create a positive counter-thought. Put those positive thoughts on sticky notes and place them in various locations in your environment. Changing your thoughts can have a profound impact on changing your life. Remember that joy is not tied to circumstance. Whatever is going on in your life, rise up and choose joy. Acceptance means never turning your back on yourself. Make a decision today to love and respect yourself. If you don’t, odds are, no one else will. You are, in essence, setting the bar for how others can/will treat you.


“Loving everything about yourself – even the unacceptable – is an act of personal power.

It is the beginning of healing.”


13 steps to achieving self-love:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others
  2. Don’t worry about others’ opinions
  3. Allow yourself to make mistakes
  4. Remember your value doesn’t lie in how your body looks
  5. Don’t be afraid to let go of toxic people
  6. Process your fears
  7. Trust yourself to make good decisions for yourself
  8. Take every opportunity life presents or create your own goals/dreams
  9. Put yourself first
  10. Feel pain and joy as fully as you can
  11. Exercise boldness in public
  12. See beauty in simple things
  13. Be kind to yourself

Self-love is about accepting what you’ve been through and the choices you’ve made because you now know that you acted on the knowledge and experiences that you had to date, at that time. Sure you have evolved and may be a different person now than you were then. Your today’s choice may be different than yesterday’s choice. This is progress. Don’t be hard on yourself. Self-judgment can be harsh and may not lead to healthy progress. Self-acceptance of all of who you are is a key to self-love. Your journey is different than anyone else’s and the ride you have been on has made you who you are.  Love yourself foremost by accepting all parts of you, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. You are so special and you totally got this.

Care and Share

As a tourist traveling through Europe, it was not unusual to find myself at the mercy of a localite. I could be immobile, physically stuck without the kindness of a stranger. It meant surrendering to the moment and trusting in the outcome that was to be. 

For example, I took a train to Verona Italy, a place made famous by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” At the train station, we needed to take a bus to the hotel; and no, I do not speak Italian. I had done some research and knew what bus number to board. However, bus after bus came and departed, all of the wrong bus number. Finally, I walked around a bus and asked the driver if he went to our hotel. When he said yes, my family and I boarded. It was a very hot day and the bus was tightly packed with people, mostly standing. I then realized that I had no idea where or when to get off the bus and because I could not see the driver, I had little assurance that he would tell me when to step off. I was most definitely in a pickle. It became quite clear that if I did not seek the assistance of a stranger, I would risk spending the rest of my vacation circling Verona. The woman standing next to me did not speak English, but she knew the hotel and was kind enough to hold up the number of fingers representing the number of stops ahead of me, until I reached my destination.

What a blessing it is when someone goes out of their way to be kind. Can you remember a time when someone asked you for help, perhaps asking you for directions to a particular place? Were you eager and willing to help them? Your act of kindness was not just a benefit to them, but also to you. You see, researchers have found that when we show acts of kindness to others, we release oxytocin, which makes us feel happy in the process. Both parties involved with the transaction will experience reduced anxiety due to lower cortisol levels, and a feeling of gratitude for the connection with one another. According to the Mayo Clinic, being good to others boosts serotonin and dopamine levels, the neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Random studies have suggested doing acts of kindness to feel happier, more confident, more resilient and more empowered.

So why not bless others without being asked. Showing kindness may create laughter, a chuckle, surely a smile. It begins with the understanding that we all struggle, we all suffer, we all have bad days. When we take a moment to bless a stranger, we create space for them, acceptance, and in doing so, the heaven expands and the angels sing. Why not be the person that brings warmth and value to someone else, with no expectation in return. After all, a candle does not lose its flame when lighting another candle.

“Don’t wait to be kind. Don’t wait for someone else to be kind first. Don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change. Just be kind, because you never know how much someone needs it.” Nikki Banas – Walk the Earth

Kindness is always a choice. Scout out the opportunities to bless others with your kindness. And when you do, please tell us the story, Care and Share.

  • why were you moved to do what you did?
  • what exactly did you do?
  • how did the other person respond?
  • How did the act of kindness make you feel?

When you see someone struggling, don’t be the observer, be the blessing. Equally important is sharing the good news. Perhaps we could all use more positive news in our lives. Ultimately, we want these stories to lift others, bringing feelings of encouragement, empowerment, and love for one another.

You can share your story at the In the Spirit of Love website for potential exposure in a future blog:

Bless you for blessing others…