The Socially Healthy Person

Coming up with a social practice has been a struggle for me, in part because it is not clear to me what the end of that practice ought to be.

Note that while I separate emotional from social well-being, I’m not sure the two domains are separable.

So what does my socially healthy person look like?

She has friends she trusts and can confide in.  She is willing to be vulnerable with those she trusts.  She enjoys being with people, and people enjoy being with her.  She is approachable, and approaches those acquaintances she wants to know better.

She wants to broaden and deepen her relationships.  That is, she wants to extend her circle of acquaintance.  She wants to get to know and understand the people she is already acquainted with.  If she finds someone she is acquainted with both interesting and admirable, then she wants to turn that acquaintance into a friend.

She keeps an eye out for those people she finds intriguing, who nevertheless challenge her point of view.  For example, suppose both she and another person like to read nonfiction, but have opposing political points of view.  They might find they both have to stretch a little in order to understand the other person’s perspective.

In other words, she will make an extra effort to befriend someone who will add a measure of diversity to her social circle; not only for diversity’s sake, but to gain some perspective.

So the socially healthy person has a broad and diverse circle of acquaintance, together with an inner circle of deep friendships based on trust and a willingness to be vulnerable.

Do you agree?  What do you think the socially healthy person looks like?

Financial Health, Part 2

So if financial health doesn’t consist of a person’s income, what does it consist of?

A household is like a little economy.  We all need food, clothing, and shelter to survive.  So a household needs an income in order to continually replenish these things by way of exchange.  Moreover, if our income exceeds the costs of those basic needs then we have a surplus that we can choose to spend on luxury items or services, save, or give away as charity.

Beyond that, our households are tied to certain cultural norms and status symbols which we consciously or unconsciously strive to meet or obtain.

I think financial health begins with mindfulness; being aware of what we are spending our money on and why.  Without this mindfulness we can be very much like the addicted gambler at the slot machine.  We buy another pair of shoes when we already have ten pair at home, the same way the gambler pulls the handle of the slot machine, both expecting happiness from the next purchase but finding none.

There is a Chinese proverb from the Tao Te Ching that speaks to this issue: He who knows enough is enough will always have enough.  In America, no matter how much we have we always seem to want more.

And more is not enough.

How can we practice mindfulness with respect to our money?  Why am I going to the store?  Do I have a list of things I need, or am I going to look for something I crave?  Are there certain things I compulsively buy whether I need them or not?  I heard of a girl in college who had 125 sweaters.

Is what I’m buying bringing lasting satisfaction, or am I only scratching an itch?