How is it that we have access to more information than ever before and yet, as a society, our health is, to say the least, struggling?
And that we are more ‘connected’ than any generation in history, and social isolation is a real issue in our time?
Photo via VisualHunt
When it is laid out like that, its hard to ignore, but it’s true. We think we are so ‘in the know’ but we often aren’t!!
The power of community is a phenomenon that our ancestors had right – they knew being part of an extended family was good for health, (for a variety of reasons) and that it most definitely takes a village to raise a child. But, here we are and it seems, we have mostly gotten ‘too cool’ for the village! Why? There are lots of reasons, of which, I’m sure you can think of without me!
Look, I’m not saying you should invite every family member to be part of your household/village, that would be extreme, and for some, too much to take! Though wouldn’t it be awesome to chill out with the people who feed your soul more often?? Or just to know you belong to something bigger than yourself?
This belonging is one of the keys to resilience as defined by world-renowned Dr Michael Ungar of The Resilience Research Centre, based in Canada. I had the honour of hearing this man speak about resilient youth last year in Brisbane – and I can tell you, one day wasn’t enough!! He has dedicated an unbelievable amount of time to researching resilience and how it affects both individuals and communities. You can see his work at http://resilienceresearch.org
Sorry, I’m back on topic now – communities can push us to new places of ability and belief and also keep us honest! I’m reminded of this when sometimes I force myself to go for a run in the morning, I might not go far, but at least I go, and have stuck to my word I had previously given my inspiring friend!
My morning battle backs up what we know already. That is – results are multiplied (in many areas of life) when you surround yourself with ‘your’ like-minded people.
A good example is weight loss and weight loss maintenance – not only does research show it is more successful in the early stages with a buddy. But another tip to long term success is creating an environment where the new found healthy lifestyle is the ‘norm’ rather than feeling like you are the odd one out.
Reading through what I’ve written so far, I kind of sound like I’m saying just have any people around!! I’m not, it is still crucial to choose the people you spend time with wisely, but find the like-minded people who force you up a level!!
This notion has been termed strategic alliance – its not about what you want in return, its about how we can team up to get better outcomes in the big picture of life.
For health, it means more health-focused lifestyles, not only for us, but also those around us!
For the parents who are reading, it means carefully constructing your village. Are you part of a village? How do you think it would be useful if you were? Some parents can be vicious – for reasons I have never figured out. I know you will understand when I say – parenting shouldn’t be a competition, it should be about building each other up while we figure out what we are doing – and all the while keeping your children’s self-esteem intact!
The truth is, in this modern world, this concept of community (and the power it holds) needs much work!
We need to use our online connectedness as a tool to create offline communities and villages and importantly, find ‘our’ people.
I’ll leave you with this – a challenge to consider – What communities you are part of? How do you contribute to them? Are you proud of your contributions? What else would you like to get out of these communities? How connected are you?
Featured Image: Photo via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/”>VisualHunt</a>