Wellness Wednesday is focusing on mental health and social and emotional well-being. At the root of this is every person’s need to belong and experience connection. In his farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said:

“This world of ours…must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate,

and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”

I believe in this one sentence President Eisenhower provides the essential equation for mental health and social and emotional well-being:

Trust and Respect  –>  Connection  –>  Trust and Respect 

Trust and respect foster connection and connection fosters more trust and respect.

One way this happens is by sharing ‘my story’ and experiencing another person listening — just listening — to my story. I’m going to define my story as an experience in my life that reveals something significant about who I am. When I tell my story, I share something with another person that identifies who I am and how I understand the world. When, by listening, another respects my story, connection happens.

Let’s try it. I’m going to share something about my story.

I grew up in a small town in Illinois. I was in a class of twelve kids. Almost everyone’s name in town ended in a vowel. Yes, we were all Italians, except for Sheila Tuchelowski. Sheila wasn’t Italian, but we accepted her. After all, her name ended in a vowel.

I lived in one of the four taverns in a town of 500 people. Every day Louie Venturi came in, sat in the same place at the end of the bar and ordered the same thing…a beer and a raw egg.

Louie would crack the egg on the glass and dump the raw egg into the beer. Then it would happen. Are you ready for this? Louie would drink the entire beer in one gulp. And I would watch as that raw egg slithered down his throat.

The telephone service we had in the 1950s was a party line. Ten households in town had the same phone number. When the phone would ring, the call was for us or for one of the other nine households. I always picked up the phone slowly so that if the call was for someone else, they wouldn’t know I was on the phone and I could listen in. Of course, others were doing the same thing if the call was for me. It’s as if we were all one family, just living in different houses.

Basketball was my love and joy. Bob Beals was the coach of rival Mendota High School. When I got home from a hard-fought close game with the Trojans one night, Coach Beals was in our kitchen having a ravioli dinner with my parents. Yes, my mother had invited the opposing coach to have dinner with us. To my mother, everyone belonged and her job was to make sure they got fed.

That’s part of my story. It doesn’t matter if you’re not Italian like Sheila, have strange habits like Louie or coach the opposing team like Coach Beals, you belong because you matter.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for respecting my story. Thanks for connecting.

This week share your version of my story with someone and experience the magic of connection. (If you like, send your my story to me and we’ll include it in future WW.) Then listen to someone’s version of my story and make the magic of connection happen for them.

Grateful to my partners…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…and for the connection we have experienced from sharing my story with each other.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training