“So—what do you do for a living?”

“I am a relationship expert.”

Eye roll.“That sounds important—what do you really do?”

Without blinking, I look past the eye roll and state “If you understood the value of relationships you would know that I have the most important job in the world.”

I spend a little time each day perusing different philosophies and beliefs about life and its meaning. I find each perspective adds a little more understanding to how I see things around me. Some extreme views and disciplines that require a monastic existence are obviously not for me but do teach me the importance of taking a little time each day for contemplation and solitude. Even lifestyles and attitudes I find overtly selfish and hedonistic whisper a subliminal suggestion to loosen up and enjoy life a little more. I am not in any way insinuating that I have indecisive views on life. I do have strong beliefs and opinions. It’s just that one of my beliefs is that you can learn something from almost every person you meet.

I don’t believe I am unique. Most everyone learns in this manner—at least at first. Even though we are all born with certain drives and instincts, most of our brain begins as a blank slate. We learn quickly from our own experiences and more particularly from the people around us. Relationships form the very core of our existence. Our views of life tend to initially mimic those closest to us. As we expand our social circle, we begin to see that ours is not the only point of view. Our eyes open to multiple perspectives.

Man’s ability to hold and share divergent beliefs and perspectives is an important part of the human experience. This concept of sharing is a paradox however. Our sometimes-distorted desire to forcibly share our views and beliefs, but not our land, has led to countless wars and loss of life. If you look around the world today, the cycle continues. Our inability to share and “play nice” on the macro scale is a tragedy—but not necessarily more distressing than our inability to create peace in our personal relationships.

Mahatma Gandhi stated, “You must BE the change you want to see in the world.” That important change, in my opinion, would be the ability to lovingly, peaceably, and effectively interact with another person. The character required to foster an intimate relationship is exactly the same character required for peace in families, communities, and the world.

For my friend and others who may only see a relationship expert as a glorified babysitter for quarreling couples I want to point out that relationships are at the heart of almost every matter. The world is comprised of people—people in relationships. Those who can only see financial markets with geopolitical ideals and borders will find it difficult to ever put an end to the hostilities. However, those who see the world as a network of relationships continue to hope that peace may be at hand.

What is the value of eight cows and a successful relationship? It can change the world.

Tracy Lyn Cutler