Funny how things connect for us, right? By chance I bumped into an article on the CNN Health website last night that speaks in some depth on the topic of belonging. In my last post I paid homage to Marina Keegan who wrote a touching essay for her fellow graduates this year at Yale. Her tragic death only heightens our awareness of her message:
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”
The CNN story, written by Amanda Enayati answers Marina’s question. The opposite of loneliness is belonging. The article (read it here) presents psychological research namely, Belonging Intervention, that helps people understand the importance of belonging. For negative events in our lives we can shift from “It’s just me.” to “I’m not alone and there are other going through it.”
Because as humans, we need to belong.
To one another, to our friends and families,
to our culture and country, to our world.
Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.
Research referenced in the article confirms that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. A key research tool was simply storytelling. The researchers asked upper level students to write and share stories of how they worked through their early challenging years in college. The researchers told these students that the stories were for incoming freshman to help with the transition to university life. Alas, the focus was on those writing the stories all along. Through the shared storytelling these students realized that they were not alone and they shared similar issues. This understanding of belonging can serve to reduce anxiety and stress while helping each of us move forward and work through life’s problems.
People have asked me why I titled my blog, WeMoveTogether. I knew my focus would be on leadership and all my potential blog names included the word, “Leadership”. Somehow inspiration lead me to WeMoveTogether and the term felt right immediately. In earlier posts I have stated my stance that we humans have forgotten more than we have learned. I argue that we are less connected to each other; our sense of belonging is fading in this so-called modern world. We must re-establish ways to connect. Alas, facebook is not the answer (a post for another day). For me WeMoveTogether represents that spirit of connection and leadership is so important for this goal.
Leadership is there for all of us. Each of us can influence the world and support a renewed sense of belonging. Let me finish where I started with Marina’s beautiful essay. She sums it up better than me.
It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.
CNN Article, The Importance of Belonging
Once more, Marina’s Essay