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Are They Really Happy? by Dr. Charles Glassman

One of the funny things that we humans do is look at other people and fantasize about how great their lives must be. A related phenomenon is our efforts to get people to feel that way about us—that is, to believe that our lives must be great.

This is because our primitive nature and our primitive brains are ever watchful for potential competitors. That brain is referred to as the automatic brain (AB) because its reflexes happen automatically, without thought. We size people up all the time and don’t want people to size us up as weaker than them.

Relationships can be the source of great joy or the catalyst for stress and subsequent ill health. One source of stress in a relationship can be the perceived relationships of others, which might affect expectations in your relationship. “Why can’t you be confident like him?” she may ask. Or he may retort, “Why aren’t you as passionate as her?” Looking for answers about yourself in the perceived lives of others is a recipe for disaster and a guarantee of disharmony.

Another trap that befalls some couples is trying too hard to make their relationship the envy of others. They work so hard on the public appearance of their relationship that they gloss over the important private details. The result is a strain in their personal life. In their quest to be the envy of everyone, they may cause others to fight or flee.

A relationship should never be a tool for self-aggrandizement or enhanced status. Most of the time when this happens, it does not stem from a fully conscious decision. It is merely the result of our primitive nature trying to place us in a position of maximum power or prestige. Such arrangements usually implode and, as is usually the case when we believe, trust and take direction from our AB, we become less powerful.

The true power in a relationship comes from closeness created by a mutual trust and exchange. Both people bring to the relationship their own worldview and both can survive just well enough on their own without the other. In this type of relationship, the total is greater and more powerful than the sum of its parts.

Resist the natural urge to style your relationship for the favor of your community or as part of some sort of power play. Respect the integrity, inner beauty and strength of your partner rather than thinking of how they may enhance your status. Honor your relationship and nurture it without obsessing about how others may view it. A healthy relationship has a way of attracting others while not eliciting their envy. Share a connection that supports both partners’ growth in mind, body and soul, and know a relationship that will survive even the most difficult challenges.

Charles Glassman, MD, is the author of Brain Drain and has a private practice at the New York Center for Longevity & Wellness in Pomona. For more information, call 362-1110 or visit CharlesGlassmanMD.com or Coach MD on Facebook.

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