Today, I discuss why your relationships should serve your virtuous ends.
Table of Contents
- Most relationships serve our vices and the vices of others
- How To Ensure Your Relationships With Others Serve The Best Within You
- Relationships Should Serve Your Virtuous Ends
Most relationships serve our vices and the vices of others
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” – J.K. Rowling
All relationships serve a purpose. Familial bonds involve keeping the family together; work relationships help foster a more productive environment; friendships bring joy to those involved, and so on. No man is an island. We all need intimacy and community with others.
Unfortunately, most relationships promote our vices and the vices of others. These vices can range from things as horrid as adultery to as pedestrian as laziness.
Why Do Most Relationships serve our vices?
We form relationships for reasons other than the pursuit of virtue. For example, familial relationships are created because of chance, work relationships are formed out of necessity, and friendships are started over common consumerist interests. Very rarely do relationships develop from a love of virtue or a desire to pursue the best version of oneself. We do not make friends with people because they are courageous or patient. Or because they will help us achieve our virtuous goals. We form relationships with people because they also like football.
Is this the end of the world? Not entirely. But the friend who enjoys football may have a drinking problem. He can easily pass this problem to you as he pressures you to “relax” and enjoy his company. Or, his anger issues can influence your emotions and destabilize you. Now you are less emotionally connected and prone to outbursts.
Now, I am not arguing relationships cannot evolve or be encouraged into something more profound. Yes, you can push your friend to overcome their drinking problem, and they can help you overcome your issues. And yes, you can encourage better behavior in your family and honesty amongst your coworkers.
I’m saying we rarely form relationships with people to help them grow and vice versa. We do not value friends for their fortitude or courage. We appreciate them for their jokes and shared interests. We do not pursue lovers who are grateful and disciplined. We seek exciting people. We do not love our family because they are patient and honest. We love them because we are emotionally connected to them.
Therefore, when you do not pursue community with people trying to become their best selves, you surround yourself with individuals who are not invested in your greatness.
Why Should Our Relationships Serve The Best Within Us?
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” – Carl Gustav Jung
Becoming your best self is about more than completing goals. Virtue is about being a morally excellent individual who builds a sustainable life for your and others’ benefit.
A relationship’s first concern should be virtue. When forming ties with others, our focus should be: how will they help me become my best self, and how can I help them?
Firstly, society benefits when communities are not about chance or shared interests. When communities are focused on every member’s moral excellence, then everybody keeps each other accountable. The more responsible we are to others on our path to greatness, the more likely we will help others achieve their best selves. And there’s nothing that can beat a society of accomplished, self-fulfilled individuals.
Secondly, the individual benefits. How much more would you push yourself at the gym if you built friendships around wanting to get in shape? How much easier would it be to discuss problems with family if everyone valued honesty and generosity? Such relationships will challenge you and help you become your best self.
How To Ensure Your Relationships With Others Serve The Best Within You
- Firstly, understand what you want to do as well as the 13 virtues. When you understand what goals you want to accomplish and the virtues you should be pursuing, it becomes easier to pick relationships to serve both.
- Secondly, become self-sufficient and improve yourself. The more you grow, the better you understand what standards are worth pursuing and cultivating. Remember, collectivists do not like self-sufficiency. Individuals who are healthy, well-read, capable, and competent do not have to suffer the company of fools.
- Thirdly, become a better person to attract better people into your life. Inversely, you will expel those who are not virtuous. Focus on self-improvement to ensure your success. Remain humble when discussing yourself with others. Be reserved but clear about the goals you are trying to accomplish.
- Lastly, remember the virtues of patience and generosity. Be patient with yourself when you encounter conflicts and disagreements. Be generous to others by seeking to help them first before expecting them to help you. Keep your standards close. If you believe someone is using you, then be upfront. Ensure what you bring to the relationship helps others become their best selves.
Relationships Should Serve Your Virtuous Ends
‘”Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?” “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”‘ – Ray Bradbury
The foundation of all relationships should be virtue. Every member should want to pursue their best selves. You will not agree with your friends, family, and coworkers on every little thing. But you must surround yourself with people who understand why virtue is necessary, self-control is crucial, and goals should be pursued.
Find your community. Build it. Help those who are already in your life. Create a community of individuals ready and able to help you.
- How is the quality of your relationships? Do you believe they support your self-improvement?
- What can you do to help the people closest to you? How can you ensure they achieve their goals?
- Are you self-sufficient? What can you do to increase your independence?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume. *Image credit to Unsplash.