Tonight, the fourth part of our Health and Happiness storytelling series is on relationship health.

I, like many of our past attendees, have been looking forward to this group of stories for a long time because it is something that’s been top of mind in recent years.

I’ve been focused on depth in all things.

Last week (and many other weeks), I wrote about deep work, I’ve written about depth in my mission and purpose, and I’ve written about deepening my connection with the community.

When we hear the word “relationships,” we all tend to automatically think of relationships with loved ones or significant others.

In those relationships with our significant others, or at least in healthy ones, there’s a concept known as “The three Cs” — which include commitment, compromise and communication. (others use five Cs, which add companionship and caring).

What surprises me, based off of all I’ve learned in the past few years, is that none of those Cs are “connection.” Which to me, is what it all comes down to.

I’m currently in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in, but it’s far from perfect. Because I’m far from perfect. (So is she, but let’s just focus on me here, so I can keep it healthy).

It took me a while to learn the commitment, compromise, and communication stages (which are 100% vital to any relationship), but when I wanted to take it to the next level, past what I’ve experienced in any other relationship, I had to work on connection.

Deep, true connection.

I was reading a book recently (probably from Brené Brown) that asked us to view any opportunity with our partners as a chance to either strengthen or weaken the connection.

This happens in extremely small ways.

For example, if we’re both on the couch on our phones, we can choose (and always choose, whether we realize it or not), to use that moment to get closer or further apart.

You don’t even have to necessarily stop what you’re doing or live some phone-free life. Sometimes it’s just as simple as moving closer so there’s physical touch and you know one another is there beside you, connected.

It won’t happen overnight, and obviously there are times where we have to handle something else or when we even need a break from each other, but those little moments of disconnection (or missed connection, I prefer to call it) will add up overtime and their results can be quite insidious.

The thing is, though, that none of this is possible if we are not connected with ourselves first.

If I’m not connected to the moment, I won’t even see the opportunity to strengthen my connection. If I’m not a good listener, there won’t be any connection when she needs me to hear what she’s going through. If I’m not constantly trying to improve myself and become a better person and partner, then it’s not going to happen for any relationship in which I am a part.

We need to be deeply rooted first.

If we are loosely floating around, there is no (healthy) way to attach ourselves to others and create the connection we need.

If we don’t create those strong connections, we risk facing this world alone — and we can all imagine how that will turn out in the long run.

The topics tonight range from relationships with coworkers, relationships with educators, and there’s even a story about our relationship with nature.

At the core of each and all of those relationships is a connection.

More specifically, they are connections that we must consistently work hard to cultivate and maintain. It starts with being self-aware of the connection (or missed connection) and it starts with actively working to be present and deepen the connection with each opportunity.

It starts with us.

Featured image via Anna Norwood

Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.

You can read the rest of “Right as Rain” here, and check back every Wednesday on Chapelboro for a new column!