Do Relationships Matter in Happiness?

Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.”

~Eckhart Tolle

I think we underestimate the essential role of genuine, mindful relationships when it comes to wholeness and joyful living. When we are in a genuine relationship with another, we feel seen, loved and free to be who we really are and that brings happiness and relief into our lives.

Eckhart Tolle talks about the pain-body, an emotional pain that leaves a residue on the spirit, a wound that can easily open with a trigger or simply linger over you like unhappiness and exhaustion. He describes it as a negative energy, a filter that can distort your interpretation of reality preventing you from allowing more happiness into your life.

Most of Eckhart Tolle’s work centers on happiness and peace by raising consciousness and meditation. He suggests that you bring light to your pain-body by becoming aware of your thoughts. With light, the pain-body begins to cease and you are left with peace of mind and readiness for joy.

I’m aware of the pain-body. All pain body (emotional wound) occurs from some relationship or another; it is a result of some interaction with another in the universe. While awareness and some healing comes from meditation, applying awareness to relationship brings it full circle and finality to the pain-body. I believe we are drawn to others precisely because of our thoughts, desires and needs, including the need to heal our pain-body. Therefore, a relationship in our life is an opportunity. With this person, we can choose to reveal ourselves, unravel the pain-body. Yes, you are doing work when you are alone in contemplation, yes– but you also need to do this work with another human being. This mindful sharing and revealing leads to renewed trust and bonding. You are reorganizing the dynamics of your inner world, you are creating a new consciousness, a new thought pattern, a new beginning.

It’s actually a tender, loving willingness and it can be very gentle and beautiful when you feel it happening together, with the person of your choosing.

This exchange can happen over a long period of time, or instantly. In long term relationships there may be several elements of pain-body interacting and healing. Stagnation and pain occur in a relationship that is not willing to reveal this inner world, open up, be vulnerable. I’m not suggesting that relationships come together only to share and heal a suffering, as in a pain-body… although this may be true in some cases. I’m saying we’re drawn to people for a shared purpose and part of this purpose is to move into peace and happiness. We all need to be seen, loved in our nakedness, be washed over by the light of unconditional love.


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