Get Connected and Change Your Life

Get Connected and Change Your Life

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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13 Comments

  1. Sometimes I work well in a group and other times I prefer to work alone. It all depends on the group of people that I am working with. If they are like minded it works out well for me.

    Reply
  2. Great idea, love the group energy. Thank you for connecting the world in this beautiful way. I have been enjoying the joy of participating in groups for over 25 years and have found it a most healing and rewarding venture.

    Reply
  3. What a great article, Allison, THANK YOU!!:)

    I feel as if I was leading to your article, since its been awhile that I’m looking for joining a group. I just can’t seem to find one! I’m looking for a group which would help me help others, improving leadership skills and basically emphasizes on being a better person, Any ideas?? I would love to hear.

    Thanks:)

    Reply
    • Lia, I would suggest looking into organizations in your area that help at-risk youth or kids in need. Many of these focus on leadership skills and you would probably get great reward from helping these populations. Good luck, and I hope you find something meaningful that brings community into your life while helping others!

      Reply
  4. Working out in a group, or having a group outdoor activity is something that I find very fun and beneficial from many aspects.

    There is a big change in our attitude towards things when there are more people around us. That’s a fact.

    And about voluntary work… I guess there is a certain feeling of satisfaction when producing valuable things within a community. Even that alone is enough.

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  5. I like this post, especially suggestion #2. Volunteering really is a great way to meet new, wonderful people. It’s also a humbling, satisfying experience – making a difference for other people is deeply gratifying and done all too rarely.

    I actually haven’t made the time to volunteer in 2 years, and I think it’s time to change that – I really miss a lot of stuff about it.

    Thanks, Allison :)

    Reply
  6. Hi Alison,
    Getting out and about has benefits…good for the soul…interact with others, share thoughts and ideas, collaborate. Thankyou
    be good to yourself
    David

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  7. I find groups of any kind draining and enervating. Even groups of friends drain me after a while, while groups of strangers make me want to cover my eyes and ears at best, or run away screaming at worst. I am an introvert of the worst kind – and out of all the people I know (family, friends, work colleagues and their families), at least two-thirds are the same. I’d hazard a guess and say the generalisations in your second paragraph are only true for about half the population – not most, as you claim. I know I don’t crave social interaction or affiliations. I am not driven to seek out other human beings, let alone groups of them all at once. I am driven to stay as far away from the vast majority of humanity as I can. I deal with the people I have to, retreating to my safe haven as soon as I can. Internet interaction is about as far as I stretch on a good day – on a bad day I interact with no-one but my husband, and that’s more than enough. On a really bad day, I am grateful he spends 12 hours at work so I can be alone. Getting out and about and interacting with others (as one commenter put it) is soul-sucking for a good many introverts I personally know – including me.

    Reply
    • PK, you’re correct that not everyone likes working in groups. I do think we are by nature social creatures who need others to survive, but this does not mean that everyone feels comfortable in groups or thrives around others. Thanks for pointing out that there are people who feel like you do.

      Reply
  8. sometimes, instead of looking for an organized group, we can initiate one, and organize one ourselves, instead of waiting for others to do it
    Noch Noch

    Reply
    • I like this way of thinking. Be initiator instead of just waiting for things to happen. Will definitely try to adopt this idea :)

      Reply
  9. I appreciate the comments suggesting that this may work better for extroverts. While we all desire community, the “group thing” is likely draining and counterproductive for introverts. After all, 1/3 to 1/2 of the population is more introverted than extroverted. Susan Cain’s new book (“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”) is empowering. http:ahungrylife.com

    Reply

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