We Are Family

I love watching this last season of Boston Legal. Yes, David Kelley is using it as a vehicle to give every opinion he has about everything on the planet. His weapon isn’t concealed. It’s blatant. It’s his canceled show, so why not?

What I love about the show is that the characters are aging not so gracefully together. They love, they laugh, they annoy, they tease, they bicker, they disgust and they amaze each other each day. In these days when our “families” include a rotating list of best friends, our work-out partners, our work colleagues and our nannies, we can be dysfunctional with a larger group of people than ever before.

Who said our communities are breaking down? They are alive and well. They just don’t include the people next door.

We often define family as those connected by blood or our dearest friends. Yet many anthropologists believe the primary function of the family is to perpetuate society, biologically and socially. Family is really who we live out our daily lives with. If your life touches someone else’s on a consistent basis, they are a part of your family.

Every day, we are growing older with our “family.” We love, laugh, annoy, tease, ignore, bicker with, disgust and amaze our co-workers, gym buddies, dry cleaning and grocery clerks, accountants, yard workers and even our pets. They hold the space that we live in as we hold it for them. All the noise lets us know we are not alone.

What emotion are you contributing to your “family space” today? No matter what else you feel, you can always top it off with a little gratitude.

Brain Tip: When in conversation, notice if your brain is actually listening or negatively judging the person you are with. If it is the latter, see if you can’t notice something positive about the person. If not in their words, look at

  • their passion (the light behind their eyes), or
  • the time they spent to look good today, or
  • their desire to have you hear their ideas (you must mean something to them or they probably wouldn’t be talking to you), or
  • the courage they have to fight their battles which might be harder than your own.

This person is somehow linked to your community. Can you embrace instead of push them away?

Brain Tip: Be still in the space of others. Habitually, we either talk too much or think too much about other things than what is present. The mere act of speaking elevates our blood pressure by ten to fifty points even when we aren’t angry. We not only fail to hear others, we don’t hear our own needs and desires. Then we leave feeling upset that we weren’t heard, that we overcommitted, or that we don’t feel connected to what we are doing.

Brain Tip: Take time out each day to honor one person for the gift of being in your life. Even the person who delivers your mail is a part of your community. With darkness filling many corners of our lives these days, it is our community that will bring us hope and light. Brighten up someone’s day right now. Since we are all so connected, the energy will spread well beyond your words.

Thank you for being a part of my family. I wish you all Happy Holidays and a light of hope for the New Year.

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