COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Living and expressing care for others

By Fred Cavaiani

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday. My cousin who is three years younger than me said to me, "Fred, how did we get this old so quickly." I am realizing more and more about how quickly life passes by and how wise it is to realize what is most important in this short life span of ours. What is really most important in life? What is it that remains and never seems to end in life? These were thoughts on my mind the last two days.

I experienced many greetings from my friends and relatives through cards, phone calls, Facebook messages, dinner with my wife and a family gathering.

Love is all about connections with other people. I have many friends and relatives who made the effort to wish me a happy birthday and send me positive words of affirmation. These sentiments have shown me that I am not alone in life. None of us are alone. On days when we are recognized by others, the sense of aloneness we sometimes may feel seems to disappear. As I thought about this more, it became clear that each of us may sometimes feel that we are walking through life alone. Yet we really are connected to many other people. The struggle is that often we don't express how much other people mean to us and remind them of that in a consistent manner.

Everyone wants to feel connected and important to someone else. We are important and connected to many other people. However it becomes necessary for each of us to let other people know how good they are and how deeply connected we feel to them.

Life is all about experiencing a sense of meaningful relationships with others. We each have meaningful relationships. To continue these relationships we need to take the time to continually foster them. It is quite easy to do this. It simply takes affirming words, kind actions and a willingness to be with others in a positive manner. This positive manner can be a phone call, a visit, a message, a lunch or a dinner. It can be a kind text message or an email. However it means we make the effort to do this and not wait for others to do this first.

How wonderful it would be if we had Living Wakes. Before we died it would be so wonderful to have everyone who knows us tell us what they love about us before we get sick and die instead of having them say these things at our funeral while we are in the coffin, not looking so enthusiastic about life. So, maybe each of us can start telling our friends, acquaintances and relatives how much we care about them and how much we like them. Deepening our connections with other people in an affirming manner brings a meaning to life that is experienced as constant and uplifting. It is called fostering relationships.

To foster relationships we simply have to take time and make the effort to listen and love others. This does take time. But it is time well spent and it is energizing and refreshing.

Over the years I have been impressed by those people who seem to take a lot of time to nurture their relationships with their God through silence and meditation. I realize more and more that these are people who are fostering a connection with God through consistent efforts to be quiet and listen to whoever God is for them. Usually it is these same people who are also very good at establishing positive relationships with others.

Over the years I have also been impressed by those who continually make consistent efforts to reach out to others in kindness and warmth. These are people who simply make the effort to talk and listen to other people in an affirming and kind manner. Usually these same people seem to have a higher purpose in living. They seem to have some type of relationship with Someone or Something that is bigger than them. I am convinced that these loving people have a deep relationship with God but with a God who is not condemning, threatening or judging. These people seem to have a relationship with a God who is consistently loving, compassionate and caring. I am convinced of this because these people treat other people with such consistent compassion, love and kindness.

These first two days in September I received much care and kindness from people all around the United States. It made me realize again the goodness in all of us and when this goodness is shared with each other, amazing and positive things happen. I am grateful to so many for helping me see again the roadmap of life in a more positive manner. Birthdays are wonderful but more important, everyone is wonderful. So tell others about the good things that you see in them. Do it now, do not wait.

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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Wed, Sep 4, 2013