Decades ago communities were often a street or a village, a place where you felt you belonged. With the increased use of travel people were able to move further afield, to look for jobs miles away from the family home.
Moving into a new area can often feel like being an outsider or maybe feel invisible amongst many other “invisible” people.
In the book, “Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, belng part of a community and having a purpose within that community contributes greatly to a happier and longer life. Belonging to a community contributes to feeling safe and cared about.
The film Fantastic Fungi highlighted the importance of community within the mycelium and underground network of fungi. Not one species can survive by itself and is stronger within a community.
What is a community? It can be defined as a social unit that shares social norms and values such as place, geography, culture and interests. Community no longer needs to have a physical presence of people but can also be a community within a virtual space
As human beings we tend to gravitate towards people that are like ourselves i.e. have similar views, share the same passions or core beliefs about the world around us. It gives us a sense of belonging, of not being alone or isolated. We feel comfortable within that group.
Sometimes we need to be active in finding our community or tribe – seek out those groups of people with whom we feel comfortable or have something in common. At times we may find ourselves being accepted into an already existing community such as village life.
In the article by MIND on public mental health it was highlighted that lack of community and belonging increases social isolation and loneliness which can increase the likelihood of mental health problems.
“One study has found that working age adults living alone are more likely to develop mental health problems, and for older people who experience loneliness and low social interaction there is an increased likelihood of depression and suicide” O’Connell, H., Chin, A., Cunnigham, C., and Lawlor, B. (2004) Recent developments: Suicide in older people. British Medical Journal, 29: 895–9
Benefits of being part of a community include:-
Feeling supported and connected to others
Having a sense of purpose and value
Improved mental wellbeing
Where is your community? Who is your tribe? What can you do to feel a sense of belonging?
Your community or communities are out there for you to join. Check out activities and groups in your local neighbourhood or village. Start an online community based on your interests. Try out a new activity. Be consistent in your presence and involvement.
Your mental health and wellbeing will be greatly enhanced by seeking a space within a community.