The Sum of Our Relationships

There are many types of relationships in our lives and it’s interesting to occasionally reflect on their impact. One approach to doing so is using a simple arithmetic equation.


The neighbor who keeps us abreast of community news, the checkout clerk at the grocery store who greets us by name, the former coworker who occasionally calls to keep us abreast of her life. These types of relationships are pleasant and nonstressful but do little to change or improve our lives.


There are those relationships that can be draining and negative, such as the neighbor who fills every conversation with complaints about other neighbors, the family member who regularly asks for favors but is consistently unavailable when you need help, or the friend who pulls you into situations that lead to problems. These relationships can divert us from our purpose, stir unpleasant feelings, place heavy demands on us, and not only contribute nothing to our growth and well-being, but prevent us from achieving our best.

1+1=3, 4 or more

Although perhaps not as common in our lives, there are those relationships that bring out the positive, motivate and inspire us to do better, help us carry our load during those times when we can’t do it on our own, and leave us at a better place than where we were. These are valuable relationships that should be celebrated and appreciated.

It may be interesting to reflect on the relationships in your life and consider the impact they have on you. In turn, consider if your interactions with others leaves them in a better place. Imagine what a great world we would have if our focus always was trying to produce outcomes that were greater than the sum of its parts.