„Do the relationships we cultivate have a positive and inspiring effect on our lives? Do they give us strength, energy and motivation? Or do they slowly but surely drain us?“
„Good morning!“ crows the rooster – and by opening our eyes we are not just facing a new day but also the huge network of relationships our lives are embedded in. As human beings we are in a relationship with something in each and every moment of our existence, no matter whether we are aware of this or not. No matter whether you are single, a passionate lover or the parent of seven children. No matter whether you are the managing director of a big company, a person of leisure or unemployed. No matter whether you are 85 and contentedly resting on your pension-pillow or 17 and trying to unhinge the planet. Relationships determine our lives. We are in a relationship with ourselves, with our fellow human beings, our job, our flat, our computer (I hope it is an Apple), our car, our diet, our bank account, we are in a relationship with music, television, sport, sex, books, tooth brushes, underwear, stamp collections, condoms, dishwashers, jelly babies, hair restorers, the internet – we are in a relationship with the past, the present and the future. The crucial question about this whole relationship palaver is as follows: Do the relationships we cultivate have a positive and inspiring effect on our lives? Do they give us strength, energy and motivation? Or do they slowly but surely drain us?
Why does your neighbour succeed in regularly motivating himself for a morning run while you regularly fail in your attempts to crawl out of bed before eight o’clock? Do they crush and restrain us? Do they turn the blossoming tree that could be our full potential into a puny little bonsai, only the shape of which resembles what we actually could be? Of course we are trying very hard. Of course we leave nothing undone. We follow lifestyle trends and dietary advice. We do Nordic walking and Brazilian dancing. We get Japanese massage and eat Indian food. We seek our dream partner through online dating services and in our heads we are seeking our dream job. After all, all we want is to be as happy, content, full of vitality, and in as a good shape as the commercials promise us and reality denies us. While we are striving to optimise the network of our relationships we have to realise that this is not an easy job, and its rules often quite elusive. Why does your neighbour lose ten pounds with the same diet, which has your scales showing the same weight as two months ago and with a persistence worthy of Mahatma Gandhi? Why does your neighbour succeed in regularly motivating himself for a morning run while you regularly fail in your attempts to crawl out of bed before eight o’clock? Why does one person feel as happy as Larry in a challenging 17-hour job while someone else thrives on calmly and sedately doing data entry less than five hours a day? Why can you relax listening to classical music while your neighbour needs full-blast punk rock in order to feel well? Why does Mr X constantly need to have people around him in his free time while Miss Y is happy when she can lock the front door after work and switch off her mobile? Why are you content with a partner who is constantly going nineteen to the dozen while your neighbour definitely needs a person by her side who flows through life more calmly than the river the Buddha observed just before gaining enlightenment?
It would be presumptuous to claim that this book can provide answers to all these questions. It’s not even trying. All it wants to do is to be an interpreter who attempts to translate the incomprehensible, the Chinese whispers, in our network of relationships. It wants to encourage us to view from a different perspective the relationships we cultivate with our environment. A perspective that can help us to understand why we are the way we are and why some relationships – regardless whether it is the relationship with our partner, our job, our diet or our leisure time – are more beneficial for our general wellbeing than others. The book attempts to do this by drawing on an ancient wealth of empirical experience – Traditional Chinese Medicine, and in particular the system of the five elements, also referred to as the system of the five phases.