Other than our basic needs of existence like accommodation, job, food, entertainment, companionship, there is one more thing without which one cannot survive easily which is our inclusion in the society and belongingness. Loneliness, on the other hand, brings unhappiness, disappointment, low self-confidence and of course frustration.
Belonging is a Necessity: Research has proven that people with many social contacts, a network of friends, spouse, close knit family, or other group affiliations, lived longer, healthier and happier life. On the other hand, people who were isolated socially had poorer health and died earlier. Other than this, many basic needs can be fulfilled easily if we have a belonging. It gives us the feeling during our bad times that we are not alone. Belongingness gives us strength to overcome our serious and uncertain conditions.
“The feeling of not belonging, of not being entirely worthy, of being sometimes hostage to your own sensibilities. Those things speak to me very personally”. ~ Anthony Minghella (Director, Producer, Actor)
Success Does Not Happen in Isolation: Even in the corporate world, belonging is very important as we all work together to reach the desired goals of the regarding enterprises. Also, a team of supported and involved caretakers are the key if the goal of the organisation is to support “belonging”.
Let’s take an interesting story as an example:
There was a farmer who grew superior quality and award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won recognition and prizes. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learnt something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered something unexpected about the farmer.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked. “Why sir,” asked the farmer, “didn’t you know the wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior, sub-standard and poor quality corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”
The farmer gave a superb insight into the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbour’s corn also improves.
So it is in the other dimensions! Those who choose to be at harmony must help their neighbours and colleagues to be at peace. It is very often a participative and collective process. So share the good practices, ideas, knowledge with your family, team members, neighbours, friends etc.
Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) has been a very popular youth icon and became a billionaire at the age of 23. He launched a social network from his dormitory room in Harvard University. With the help of friends, he took Facebook to nationwide campuses. By 2010, Facebook had an estimated 500 million users worldwide. His connectivity and belonging gifted him a lot of success. Had it happened if he did not had any ‘belonging’?
Let’s see what the people in Middle East have to say about this:
“It’s almost seven years that I have been working in Dubai, UAE. When I was new to this place, I knew nobody, except two to three of my long distant acquaintances. I could see things were too difficult for me, whom to talk to, whom to go out with, whom to discuss my problems and feelings with. I started feeling depressed and upset all the time. But as the time passed, I made some good friends here, joined clubs, communities and so on. Now I enjoy living here…” ~ Shahid Aalam, Dubai-based entrepreneur.
“It feels really sad and upsetting when you are working outside your own country, without your family and friends around. Belonging becomes a serious need for survival.” ~ Nasir Ebrahim, Sales Manager, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.
Steps to make yourself feel ‘Belonged’:
1) Many people get so busy in their professional lives that they forget the ones right next to them. So, come closer to people who are always near you. Spend some time with your children, visit your parents time-to-time, contact your siblings, friends and relatives and share some good things or happenings of your day-to-day life. Make a plan to get together somewhere for “reconnect”.
2) Start making new friends around you. The more friends you will have, the more connectivity you will get.
3) Be the kind of friend you would like to meet and show positive attitude to the people. Don’t complain. Always look for solutions.
4) Try to increase conversations with people about many matters, like discussing about current affairs, yours as well as their interests etc.
5) Join communities and groups that you find to be interesting. Make arrangements for celebrating festivals together and have fun.
These are some simple ideas that may help you to come out from isolation and easily connect you to the world outside because you are not alone, and have a belonging.