There I was — 35,000 miles high above ground, locked in a metal tube, bouncing around amongst the clouds while gripping my armrests. My distressed facial expressions had become contorted, obviously exhibiting my fear. It was my recent plane flight from New York to California and we had hit some very strong turbulence.
A young woman seated next to me witnessed my anguish, and in silent response simply and without fanfare, opened her palm and invited me to take her hand – which I clutched onto like a lifeline and held tight until the jolting subsided.
For the past 4 hours of a 6-hour flight, we hadn’t exchanged a word. But her gesture to quietly reach out to me translated into a small but very significant connection made by two complete strangers. Stiffly sitting there, holding hands, we rode through the thumps, bumps and dips in solidarity, wordlessly bonded by a feeling of mutual support – two people foreign to one another sharing a common experience in a time of need. That is a microcosm of ‘community.’
Growing and developing those moments of connection and the accompanied feelings can be transformational. It’s a feeling of never being alone, of being supported by deep-rooted relationships that have been nurtured and nourished over time. There is nothing like it.
Orson Scott Card once said “Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.” So how do you start forming your own community?
Start with 5 easy steps
If you are out there on your own or wanting more out of your life – take a moment and do a checklist of what you are putting out there for others to see and experience.
1. How engaged in your community are you?
2. How many hours are you dedicating to socializing, networking, volunteering and meeting people who share similar interests?
3. Are you giving enough time to your friends and/or family?
4. How are you spending your free time?
5. What engages and connects you to others?
Researchers have studied how the correlation between community and strong relationships has an important and positive impact on our mental state and our well-being. Sharing our stories, our fears and our successes with others can create trust, form a bond and provide structure that lays an emotional foundation during the good and challenging times in our lives.
Start paying attention to the time you expend building your relationships, whether it be socializing, or networking for work — times that will enhance your quality of your life. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day mechanics but building a community takes effort and intention — ultimately adding value to your life. With all the competing interests we juggle at the same time this return on investment could prove to be the most important and critical part of your success and happiness. Connect, Live and Thrive!