The importance of community

Do a kind and caring community surround you? If not, it might be time to reconsider the role of friends and family in your life. It will make you feel better, boosting your longevity and keeping you feeling younger for longer.

I learned the importance of community while travelling the world making wine. It was always easy to fall into a strong community during this time. Our bonds were forged in the pressure cooker combination of long hours, hard work and culture sharing. 

We were on location to make wine, but we took advantage of the situation to learn about each other’s cultures, sharing cultural meals and stories of previous adventures. Strong bonds formed quickly. Then, it just as quickly faded as the season ended. It was time to move on and return to isolation until the following season.

Humans are social creatures; even introverts need people periodically. We are the best versions of ourselves when we have people supporting us. That is why the coaching industry is booming. Our job is not to tell you anything new; you already know the information. Our job is to ask you the right questions and help you find those answers for yourself.

In addition to periodic coaching sessions, you must surround yourself with people you admire. As the saying goes, you become who you surround yourself with.

Finding your community

When you recognize the importance of community, you can start making up for that lost time. Don’t let yourself get so isolated that you lose your community. Focus your energy on what is most important to you but remember to take the time to maintain and build relationships.

Most of us are not travelling the world making wine, making meeting new people more challenging. As an adult, it’s easy to become complacent and forget to maintain and build relationships. 

Conversely, it was easy in elementary school to have a full social life as everyone that mattered to you was either in your class or your house. If you still live where you grew up, you probably still have many of those same friends, but do those relationships still represent who you want to be?

As you age, your values change. If your friends develop differently and you hardly recognize yourself with them, it might be time to find or build a new circle of friends. This is especially true if you have travelled extensively or attended different schools. Friendships come and go; you should adapt your community according to your current interests.

A critical step in developing a longevity mindset is surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you. These people tend to have a growth mindset, knowing there will always be more to learn and experience. 

Prefabricated communities 

Religions make it easy to be part of a community. What makes them great is that they are static; it is also their worse drawback. Religions have prefabricated communities spread out around the world. They can make it easier to transition from one place to another as they bring a sense of familiarity wherever you go. 

However, their consistency can also hinder your goals if they do not align with those of the religion. Instead of ascribing strictly to one set of rules, you could join several communities or start building your own with your friends, family and people with similar interests. 

The community I have found that has changed my life is Toastmasters. Before joining the club, I had never considered myself a public speaker. In less than a year, public speaking has gone from an interest to a hobby to a passion. 

The people I met there share my love of books and have the growth mindset I was seeking. We gather regularly with a shared goal of improving our public speaking skills in a safe and inviting environment. I found them when I stopped trying to connect with people using social media. 

Social media has played a prominent role in the diminishing importance of community. We all feel we belong because we follow the same things and have the same news feed. Still, the truth is that we are more isolated than ever because we are on social media instead of actually socializing. Don’t fall for the social media trap; find your community, whoever they may be.

How to find your community

The many forms of social media make us feel we know each other. In reality, these technologies drive a wedge between us as they show us by removing our need to connect. They allow us to keep tabs on what our friends are doing and make us feel we are part of their life even when we haven’t talked to them in years.

Cal Newport writes of these hazards in Digital Minimalism, explaining how important it is to disconnect from technology and spend time together. He specified how crucial it is to call instead of texting because only on a call can you focus your attention solely on the other person. Your willingness to socialize is vital to your adaptation to a long life. 

Find social activities you enjoy to make socializing one of your longevity habits. If you are new to the city, joining a club can help you find people with similar interests. These clubs can be for meditation, running, dancing, public speaking, or anything that interests you.

 As mentioned, the club that got my interest was Toastmasters. Your community might be at comic book conventions if you love comic books. These conventions allow people from all walks of life to come together and celebrate something they have in common: a love of fiction. 

Alternatively, if you are an avid runner, you might find your community running the nearest marathon. People who run together vibe together; marathons transform you from an individual to a part of a whole. It is a powerful bonding experience even if you don’t talk to your fellow runners.

Even meditation becomes more profound when you meditate in a crowd; feeling part of a like-minded community helps you get comfortable. You can go deeper when meditating with a group as you build collective energy. 

The accountability will keep you sitting through the discomfort. When meditating alone, you might be tempted to stop the session early. However, when meditating in a crowded room, your desire to conform to society will keep you sitting, further deepening your practice. 

Meetup is an excellent resource when seeking a prefabricated community. This website shows you what people are organizing near you. The best part is, if you don’t find the type of group you want, you can create it. Technology should be used to facilitate planning activities together, not to replace those activities.

There are countless themes that people like to gather around. Find what most interests you and make it a part of your life at every stage. This continuity in the community will prevent you from getting isolated and give you the support you seek when you need it most. 

Build your gathering

Many clubs and organizations have structured meetings. We need to appreciate the importance of this structure when we organize gatherings. It can seem off-putting to structure a casual dinner with friends with rules and a schedule. However, the structure can be what makes the event enjoyable for everyone.

In The art of gathering, Priya Parker outlined how structure benefits get-togethers. It helps them flow, especially when talking is a key aspect of the meeting; it allows everyone to speak and listen.

When planning your next meeting, think of how you can build it in a way that will get everyone involved. This is not always easy, but embracing discomfort is crucial for finding a community that energizes you. 

After crisscrossing the world a few times and bouncing from strong communities to isolation, I appreciate the importance of having a supportive community. 

If you are feeling disconnected, let’s talk. Through our sessions, we can discover your passions and start building a community you can connect with. Subscribe to my newsletter below to start receiving weekly updates and get your first session free. Your community is waiting for you.

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