By Dick Kunnert

Master Facilitator/Yeshua Board Member

I had the privilege of working with Norris Hansell, a Harvard trained psychiatrist, who loved to search for information to help people live healthy. After doing a literature search, Dr. Hansell identified seven essential ways that individuals are attached to their environment.

Here are Hansell's seven essential attachments necessary to achieve a high quality of life:

  1. Supports necessary for existence (food, water, oxygen, information). These are the basic ingredients that give life to each of us.
  2. Identity -- We need a concept of who we are.
  3. Connection with other persons -- We need at least one friend, someone we look forward to being with, and they with us.
  4. Connection to groups -- We need to be a member of some social group.
  5. Connection to a social role – We need a skill that allows us to contribute to people in our lives.
  6. Money and purchasing power – We need enough money to feel part of the economy around us.
  7. A system of meaning – Belief in something bigger than oneself; Ethics, a guide for right and wrong.


The seven essential attachments are interdependent, and all are necessary for a positive sense of self and a feeling of well-being. When there is a slight imbalance, readjustments can be made. Throughout our lives, we are often in a process of rebalancing or re-establishing our sense of self and our subjective well-being. It is the continual process of living.

When I think about how the seven attachments might apply to me, this is where it takes me.  A system of meaning for me is my being a Catholic Christian. This fact shapes all the other attachments for me. For example, it’s a factor when I consider how and what I am using as basic ingredients in my life (e.g. Do I take care of my body and watch what I eat and drink -- and when?)

Another element is information that is critical to my existence. I am taking in information continually on my internal and external functioning that is telling me things like whether or not I am healthy and safe

Who I am is shaped by the realization that I am unconditionally loved by God, which gives me worth and dignity. Beyond myself I am to love my neighbor, so the attachments related to having a friend and belonging to a group are part of my belief system.

My attachment to money is also shaped by my being a Catholic Christian: I try to be prudent and just; when the money I have access to is sufficient to meet my needs, then I share with others. Sacrifice also has a role: I will reduce my needs to be able to share with others.

Fit with S3 Leadership

Our Catholic Vision for Leading like Jesus is predicated on S³ leadership. So to me the seven essential attachments fit with the vision of S³ leadership:

  • S¹ Servant – It’s not about me;
  • S² Steward – It’s not mine, I don’t own it; and,
  • S³ Shepherd -- Each person is precious.

Together they help me see myself as more than the all-consuming center of my existence. To be a healthy me, I need more than myself. I need to be attached to persons and things beyond the self.

Our life within COVID-19 is really circumscribed. It has really messed with all of our attachments. Some of us are coping better than others, but all of us have had to compensate in a multitude of ways, either healthy or unhealthy.

I hope you will examine your life today in light of the seven essential attachments. Together they provide a helpful tool to give you a status report on how well you are doing -- both physically and spiritually.

The framework should also help you see if you need to rebalance or recalibrate – and where – to enjoy a life that is healthy in all respects. Hope you find it helpful as we walk our Lenten paths to the glorious promise that is Easter.