Have you ever had the experience of doing something better in a group than you would have by yourself?  Have you ever wondered why you stick to a goal with more determination when you’ve announced it to a group of people or, better still, worked toward that goal with those who share your interest and commitment?

Human beings are social animals.  We are driven to connect with others, moving beyond our first-tier relationships with members of our family.  Most of us yearn for and seek social affiliations throughout our lives, and when we find or create opportunities that allow for meaningful connections, we often maximize our potential and have brighter, more successful outcomes.

In my book, “The Power of Community” and in a recent blog, I wrote about the impressive body of research indicating that social support does wonders for our physical health and emotional wellbeing.  For example, communities and social networks are known to help people recover from addictions, lose weight and stick with an exercise program.  As owner of four CrossFit gyms, I have seen countless individuals who have struggled for years with obesity and accompanying health problems finally change and transform their lives through the human contact and communal support offered by this unique fitness program.

So what does this mean for you in practical terms, right now?  If you don’t already belong to a group that enriches your life in some way and pushes you to do your best, you might think about finding one.

Three Ways You Can Bring Community Into Your Life Today

1. Sweat More. Join a group workout program.  I’m most familiar with CrossFit and can attest to the community component at most CrossFit gyms.  However, there are many other exercise programs whose members connect through shared discipline and hard work.  The effort is made easier with the camaraderie and fun of sweating together.

2. Volunteer. Become a volunteer for a non-profit organization whose mission is compatible with your values and ideals.  Donating time, effort, and other human resources with those who share your passion for a cause is a great way to make meaningful connections that fill your soul.  The best causes are often those that create communities and social support networks for populations in need.

3. Get Outside. Look for an outdoor adventure with an organized group and discover new aspects of yourself.  So much can happen when we are stripped of the external trappings of our everyday lives.  The group dynamics and support that emerge in the wilderness often allow us to understand parts of ourselves that have been hidden for some time. The pleasures and demands of living in nature also have a way of pushing our limits and awakening capacities and sensibilities we didn’t realize we had.  This experience can lead to self-awareness, insight and growth, with lasting friendships and group connections.

Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone and have faith in unknown possibilities. As I wrote in my book: “In thinking about the power of community and the impact of group support, what I have come to understand is that you may not know what has been missing until you discover it, and you can’t imagine the possibilities until they begin to unfold.”

Have you ever had the experience of doing something better in a group than you would have by yourself? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Photo by lululemon athletica

Allison Belger

Allison owns four CrossFit gyms in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. A former division-one collegiate soccer player and five-time marathoner, she has also been part of the outdoor adventure community.   Allison is passionate about telling stories of people who are making lives better through the power of community. Allison earned a BA from Dartmouth College, a Master's Degree from Northwestern University, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. Find out more at www.drallisonbelger.com.

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