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A community of diverse people sitting on a field together

How Being Part Of A Like-Minded Community Improves Your Overall Wellbeing

A community is basically a group of people sharing the same environment or having particular common characteristics or interests. The truth is, you are actually a part of more communities than you may realise. Our human need to belong, the emotional need to be accepted by and affiliated with others, encourages us to be part of communities. Satisfying this inherent human need is also incredibly vital for one’s overall well-being.

 

Here’s why:

 

1. To receive social support

Author and education consultant Kendra Cherry refers to social support as material and psychological resources provided by a social network that helps individuals to cope with stress. Being a part of a community that helps you build a personal relationship with others facilitates the presence of social support – whether you’re going through a plight or trying to achieve something. The most important advantage of deriving social support from a community you’re a part of is that you receive the right kind of social support. 

Two girls lying down on a bed and talking

For instance, you may have come across Facebook support groups for those who have particular mental illnesses or disorders. These groups are communities too, given they have particular characteristics in common. Often, the social support received would meet the social support needed by someone. Being someone who has also experienced mental illness, the members of the community could easily relate and understand each other. It could be emotional or informational support but tailored for people specifically experiencing mental illnesses.

 

How does it contribute to your overall well-being?

Mainly, social support assists people to cope with stress. We are no strangers to the bad effects of stress that can potentially cause serious health issues that cover both physical and mental illnesses. As much as stress is an inherent part of our lives, social support greatly helps us to cope with stressful situations better. Knowing there’s someone you can talk to and feel understood is always a great and hopeful feeling, especially under stress.

 

2. Expands your horizon

Meeting new people and maintaining habits

Community and social support received can also function as a great source of motivation. Trying to achieve your goals, either it is to exercise more often or eat healthily, is not easy. This is especially so when it requires you to build an entirely new habit. Thus, being a part of a group online or offline that likes to share new recipes and their progress of eating healthy can be a great motivation for those with the same goals. This can also apply to regularly exercise. My dad has his very own “walking buddies”. These are people he met while taking his daily morning walks. They act as an additional motivation for him to maintain the habit besides needing to stay healthy.

A community of diverse people sitting on a field together

Similarly, when I attended the ‘Crunch & Munch hangout session’ organised by Crunch that took place in February last year, I was fortunate enough to meet fellow Crunch writers and community members that I was able to nurture meaningful friendships with. Meeting with new people and making connections also welcomes growth opportunities. One of them even led me to my first writing gig outside of Crunch.

 

Making progress for the better

Certain communities not only help you maintain behaviour and find new friends, but also help you strive towards improvement while motivating and inspiring you to do better. This closely relates to my experience of being a part of Crunch’s Writing Community. I never thought I could write and joining this community was a leap of faith. In the beginning, there were a lot more failures than getting my articles successfully published on the website. However, every rejection came with constructive criticisms to improve and do better. It helped me sharpen my writing skills for the better!

 

How does it contribute to your overall well-being?

Meeting new people and making friends is always fun. This is especially so when you meet them through the communities you’re a part of. There is a potentially high chance for them to be like-minded and who might share the same goals and values. Nurturing such friendships and keeping them close can have an incredibly positive influence on your life. It can even help you to maintain positive behaviours and habits. Besides, social support from friends is as strong as – sometimes even stronger than – from family sometimes.

 

Moreover, new people bring in new opportunities for you to grow and improve. They might be what you exactly need to step out of your comfort zone, avoid complacency, and try new things!

 

3. Helps develop altruism

Altruism is the desire to simply help other people. You act out of concern for the well-being of those around you: from holding a door for a stranger or making donations for the less privileged, to providing words of comfort for a friend or carrying the groceries bags for your parents. The behaviour of altruism is further facilitated when we are a part of communities that encourage us to do more selfless services.

Person hugging someone and giving them comfort

I interviewed my Baha’i friend to find out more about this for this article. He explains how being a part of the Baha’i community encourages him to do more selfless services. There is a golden rule that the followers of the faith are expected to live up to. The quote says, ‘Blessed is he who prefereth his brother beyond himself’. The idea of helping the less fortunate here does not only point out to the less fortunate in the aspect of money but less fortunate in any manner than yourself. For example, making someone who is sad happy. This is similar to many communities (including religious ones) where the members are encouraged to do good to those around them. 

 

How does it contribute to your overall well-being?

We only realize how privileged we are when we realize we are actually in a position to help. Altruistic behaviours instil gratitude through downward social comparison, where when we realise how privileged we are compared to those who have lesser than us, we will be more thankful for all the blessings in our lives, even the tiniest ones. Only when we come in contact with people whose next meal is not guaranteed, we will realise the value of the lunch we were very fussy about. 

 

 

So get out there! Being part of communities that look out for you and accept you is a blessing. It improves our well-being tremendously through receiving social support, expanding horizons and encouraging altruistic behaviours. It is never too late to be a part of a community – it is never too late to feel belonged.

Psychology student. Writer. Speaker. A bundle of sunshine.

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