With the help and guidance of our favorite thinkers and writers, including Massimo Pigliucci, Aristotle, Maria Popova, Anaïs Nin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson here are a few things we learned about kinship and the different connections we make throughout our lifetime:

Not all relationships will fit in a standard box, and like us, they change with time.

Instead of making the month of February all about romantic relationships, we like to take a broader look at the many kinds of relationships we have — including familial, platonic, romantic, professional, and creative (among others!) — and how they change and evolve throughout our lives.

Reflecting on kinship leaves room for a wider and more open understanding, and reminds us that all of our relationships play a different role in our lives and that’s what makes them great. The important takeaway is that we make room for and value all sorts of different relationships. Not all relationships will fit in a standard box, and like us, they change with time.

All month, we’re reflecting on the incredible power of Kinship with the help of this month’s Kinship Art, created by Mari Andrew.

We need to bridge the gaps technology can create in our relationships.

In our increasingly busy and digitally-connected world, it’s easy to lose track of the important people in our lives and what they mean to us. In this way, social media can be a tool or a hindrance depending on how we use it. While it can help us connect with friends, family, and even a virtual community (like our private Facebook Group for Holstee Members!), we can’t deny that it also has a tendency to make us feel isolated — and recent studies echo this major downside.

Especially when we’re feeling disconnected or distant, it’s important to remember to connect in a meaningful way — to reach out and share time and space with another person. Make it a priority this month to visit with a friend, or schedule a phone call with someone far away. Try to bridge the gaps technology can create.

We look into some of the challenges of forming and prioritizing friendships with the help of this month’s Curated Resources.

The highest form of friendship (philia) is one of virtue.

According to Aristotle, the truest form of friendship (philia) is one of virtue, as differentiated from a friendship of pleasure or a friendship of utility. Lasting friendships can’t be based on utility or pleasure alone; our most enduring relationships are ones built on a desire for good for each other and deep understanding. Aristotle tells us that these friendships are rare and take time and intimacy to form.

We take a deep dive into how Aristotle breaks down these three categories of friendship and reflect on how they reflect our different relationships in this month’s Kinship Guide.

Healthy relationships are literally good for us.

Most of us can probably agree that friendships and relationships are essential, key components of living well. But recent studies have actually tried to quantify that fact, and have shown a number of emotional and physical health benefits. Strong social ties have been connected to boosting the immune system, increasing longevity, decreasing the risk of contracting certain chronic illnesses, and increasing the ability to deal with chronic pain.

We dive further into these studies in this month’s Curated Resources.

Reflect on the joy your relationships bring you.

While there are a number of pain points surrounding cultivating and maintaining meaningful relationships, the theme of Kinship is undeniably one that has a ton of beautiful, celebratory, happiness-filled aspects to it. While there’s always work to be done, it’s important that we take a moment to think about the wonderful people in our lives — those who brought joy even fleetingly, the one person we’ve shared the most laughs with, our given or chosen family, our creative partners, the people who’ve made us feel loved, our teammates, partners in crime, and even our furry companions. All of these relationships shape our lives and fill our days, and this is a great time to reflect on just what that has meant to you.

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Jennifer Lioy is a writer, designer, illustrator, feelings-haver, and all-things-doer at Holstee (technically, the Creative and Community Lead if anyone's asking). She lives in Austin, TX and wishes she could eat breakfast tacos every day. If given the chance, she will corner you in a bar to ask you what you’re afraid of.

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Every month we select a few writers to help us explore what it means to live more fully and mindfully. Reach out to write write@holstee.com to learn more about contributing.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Kinship.

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Our Themes

Distilled from our Manifesto, positive psychology, the science of mindfulness, and ancient philosophic studies we have identified twelve themes core to living both fully and mindfully. We mapped these twelve themes to each of the twelve months in a year. Together with our community we explore one each month.

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