CREATION Life Template: A Look at Interpersonal Relationships

Dr. Justina Or, PhD, MS, MSA, PsyM, PgDip

Dr. Adelaide Durkin, DNP, MS, RN, CNE, DipACLM

We have been composing multiple articles about holistic health that are framed by the CREATION Life model1 in our Kettering College Newsletter Holistic Health Corner. So far, we have covered Choice, Rest, Environment, Activity, and Trust in God. In this article, we are going to focus on the sixth letter of CREATION, “I” for interpersonal relationships.

Interpersonal relationships from the CREATION Life model entail “building and maintaining positive, supportive relationships with others1.” In the Genesis narrative, the creator God provided for humans’ social needs by creating Adam and Eve, celebrating the first marriage, and granting the ability to expand their social connection through children. The narrative also hints that mankind had a caring relationship with other living things. Scriptures have discussed the importance of fostering close connections, as well as the value of the faith and unique gifts of each member of the community. This is only one of the many examples of Christ’s vision for healthy caring connections within the community of faith that would extend to the entire world. From the scriptures, we learn that “all relationships are important – including our friendships, relationships with our neighbors and with our family” (Romans 12:4-5).

In addition to the biological roots of humans’ desire for connections2, there are more reasons why interpersonal relationships are vital to the holistic health of humans. Through relationships with others, humans can give and receive emotional support, which is especially important during stressful times3. It also sheds light on the resilience of humans. Furthermore, interpersonal relationships bring meaning through a sense of belonging and bonds with friends and family, which shape people’s understanding of their own identities4. They are also meaningful because they provide opportunities for empathy, contributing to altruistic actions that have a greater purpose than meeting only the needs of the individualistic self.

Researchers like Dr. Holt-Lunstad from Harvard School of Public Health have raised awareness about the fact that when our social needs are not met for a prolonged period of time, this can result in dysregulation in our biological system and lead to the development of disease. Examples of conditions that are negatively impacted by social isolation include “heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, increased risk for depression, anxiety, addiction, suicide, and increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s5.”

As such, it is helpful for people to cultivate connections with others. Here are some different things one can do to foster interpersonal relationships:

Start Small

Like Dr. Durkin mentioned in her article about choice, “small changes can make a huge difference6.” It does not have to be all-or-nothing. Small changes will add up, and eventually, you will experience the benefits and be encouraged to continue to implement small changes.

Build and Strengthen Connections7

Consider your existing relationships with others. Are there people you would like to spend more time with? If so, be intentional about it. Reach out to them, let them know, and make plans. With technology, you can also spend more time with people who do not live in the same area as you do! You can also try to get to know people who you are not familiar with, perhaps the barista who makes your coffee several times a week, the people who you go to church with, or the neighbors who live next door.

Be Yourself, Vulnerable, and Brave

Sometimes it is scary to create connections, and people may feel like they need to impress other people to develop relationships. However, just be your true self. It is not sustainable for you to be someone who you are not. Sharing the real you and your stories allows authenticity, which is generally appreciated. This process can feel vulnerable, but by engaging in this process, you are exhibiting the strength of bravery, which exists at the same time and cannot exist without one or the other.

Actively Listen and Demonstrate Empathy7

Active listening means you are truly present and are trying to understand the thoughts and feelings behind what the other person is sharing with you, instead of jumping into problem-solving and/or providing suggestions. Empathy only aids the process of active listening. When you are empathetic, it is as if you are putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to experience what the other person is telling you. You can imagine the thoughts and feelings associated with what the person is telling you.

Practice Kindness and Gratitude8,9

Your mind will follow your body. Begin with concrete actions of kindness and gratitude, such as doing something thoughtful for your coworkers like wiping the keyboards or expressing appreciation for people around you through thank you notes. Once you are involved with these actions, your mind will follow to develop relationships through kindness and gratitude.

Our master designer knew best when he created us not only with the capacity for connection but also provided resources for it to be realized in a perfect environment. Despite the challenges we face in an imperfect world, we can still cultivate healthy connections with others that will lead not only to happiness but help us to experience more abundant physical and mental health.


  1. CREATION Life. (n. d.). CREATION Life: Live life to the fullest! CREATION Life.
  2. Cook, G. (2013, October 22). Why we are wired to connect. Scientific American.
  3. American Psychiatric Association. Social connections key to maintaining mental well-being. American Psychiatric Association.
  4. Abrams, Z. (2023, June 1). The science of why friendships keep us healthy. American Psychological Association.
  5. Fudala, A. (2023, October 11). From loneliness to social connection: Lessons from research and global pandemic. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
  6. Durkin, A. (n. d.). CREATION life template: A look at choice. Kettering College Newsletter Holistic Health Corner.
  7. Davis, T. (2023, March 27). 7 Tips to build stronger connections. Psychology Today.
  8. University of Utah Health. (2021, November 19). Practicing gratitude for better health and well-being. University of Utah Health.
  9. Siegle, S. (2023, August 17). The art of kindness. Mayo Clinic Health System.


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