Enough people have reported feeling lonely and socially isolated in the last decade that it’s now considered an epidemic, and it has become necessary to intentionally invest in and nurture our personal tribe as often as we can.
With the growth of social media, we can leverage technology to find our people and build something meaningful both online and offline without traditional constraints such as geographical locations or slow communication.
Here are a few guiding principles to consider while looking for an established community in which to actively participate, or creating a new one.
1. Start with yourself
Before you can surround yourself with a supportive network of individuals, you need to know exactly what this support will look like for you. What will you give, what will you get, and how much effort are you willing to invest?
Examine your own nature and past relationships to determine what matters to you, and what you would like to uphold. Don’t try to change yourself just to fit in but rather look for people who will appreciate the person that you already are or at least respect you, and give you room to express yourself and grow.
2. Find people who are like you
The next step, after you’re clear on your needs and your goals is to find others who share the same interests or values.
You could either join an existing group or start a new one if you feel the need. The important thing is to make sure that this group is the right fit for you, and that it is organized enough that you will have regular and meaningful interactions.
“A psychological sense of community is the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure.” — Sarason, S.B.
3. Find people who are NOT like you
You’ll also need to make an effort to include people in your circle who will challenge your views and help you see the world in a different way.
Building a strong community doesn’t mean that everybody thinks and operates exactly the same. Rather, it involves bringing together a varied group of people with complementary qualities that will work together to create synergy for the benefit of the whole.
In addition to increasing your sense of wellbeing and having a network of willing helpers in times of need, being part of a strong community will help you grow as an individual, and maybe even lengthen your life!