I just returned from a wonderful retreat at Zion National Park, and while excellent content was presented, what stood out for me were the connections to community.
Rev. Debbi Brown described community as “commingling in unity” — which aptly describes the feeling that comes from participating and connecting with a group of like-souled people. It’s a sense of being a part of a greater whole, of being a piece of something bigger and more powerful than the individual self.
And why is this important? Well, two Princeton University PhDs analyzed the results of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI), a daily survey that asked roughly 1,000 U.S. residents a battery of questions about their wellbeing, and they discovered several things. One of which is that, “The very best thing that can happen to people is to spend time with other people they like. That is when they are happiest. We find loneliness is a terrible thing. So is extreme poverty. But loneliness, regardless of how rich you are, is a very bad thing.” (Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist)
So if you don’t have people in your life whom you feel deeply connected to, perhaps now is the time to make this a priority and to place your attention on creating this for yourself. Begin by noticing the people you enjoy being around, the ones whom you feel expanded when you’re engaged with them, and begin to make a conscious effort to spend more time with people like that, and less time with people who bring you down or drain your energy.
Over time, this gradual process of cultivating and pruning the people in your inner circle will result in a loving, supportive group of people who see you, value you and love you for who you are. And what better gift could you give yourself this holiday than the gift of the power of community?