‘Genki’ is a Japanese word that is often translated as ‘happy’ – such that a common phrase is ‘O-genki desu ka?’ means ‘Are you OK? Or ‘Are you happy?’ However, the meaning of this word is a little broader, meaning something more like ‘healthy in mind, body and spirit?’.
Whilst many of these blogs have considered the quality and importance of our relationship with the natural environment and with our own selves – including our sense of self-worth and our internal dialogue and self-talk, here I am going to concentrate on the importance of our romantic relationships.
That such relationships are a significant aspect of our lives with a capacity to give us immense joy (or pain) is obvious. Relationships can make us feel ‘Genki’ and that all is good with the world, or hopeless and despairing. There is an irony here, however – that despite the importance of relationships, our only real learning about how to make relationships ‘work’ is through observing the relationship between our parents. This may lead us to act in relationships in a similar manner to the way that we observe our same-sex parent behaving. This might involve the amount of effort we devote to relationships, how disagreements start and are resolved, whether jealousy is a part of the relationship, whether the relationship is one of friends or rivals (friends may argue to ‘sort things out’ whilst rivals will argue to ‘win points’ and ‘get one over’ on the other), whether secrets are kept from our other half and so on.
On the subject of really seeing another person as they are, rather than as our idealised version of them, or how they would like to be seen, here is a passage from ‘Paper Towns:
“Maybe it’s like you said before, all of us being cracked open. Like each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And then things happen – these people leave us, or don’t love us, or don’t get us, or we don’t get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack in places. And I mean, yeah once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable. Once it starts to rain inside the Osprey, it will never be remodelled. But there is all this time between when the cracks start to open up and when we finally fall apart. And it’s only that time that we see one another because we see out of ourselves through our cracks and into others through theirs. When did we see each other face to face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade, but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” Therapy can help one to improve one’s relationships.