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Feeling Isolated? How to Search & Find a Community that feels right for You

They say the world is now our neighborhood. We can see and chat with people around the world through video calls, social media, apps or plane rides. The world is smaller. Yet despite having access to more people, there is a growing trend of people feeling alone and isolated compared to our parents and grandparents generations.

I’m not talking about BEING alone. Having some quiet alone time can renew us when have had an overly stimulating day. Instead, I’m talking about feeling isolated and disconnected. These feelings can creep up when you are in a sea of people but do not have any meaningful connections with any of them, such as when you are walking down a busy street in a large city. Or it can happen when you are out with acquaintances and you just don’t feel a connection or renewed when you go home for the night.

Feeling isolated is also the result of our world’s dependency on technology and and increase in virtual work and social media relationships. While tech has made our lives easier in many ways (thank you app delivery services), it also simply means we don’t need to leave our houses as often to do the same things we used to have to do in person. And while I love to see people’s social media feeds to get updates on their lives and families, it isn’t the same as calling up a friend or meeting for a cup of coffee.

It is so important to build and maintain strong relationships with others for our own true happiness. I need to actually be with people in person to feel truly connected. Our happiness and well-being is very much interconnected with our relationships with others.

I think that we often overlook how hard it can be to meet new people and form these relationships. Whether it is because we just moved to a new city and have to re-establish ourselves in a community, or if it’s because we just want to build more friendships and relationships…it can be so hard and intimidating to build new relationships.

Remember when you were a kid, how easy and effortless this could be? The girl sitting next to you in kindergarten loves the green crayon as much as you. Instant friend. Or the kids playing ball outside your house could become your buddies so simply by you walking up and asking them “can I play?” Once you reach adulthood, relationships tend to get more complex. How does that nice co-worker become your off-the-clock friend too? If you meet someone at the park, it can feel creepy or weird to say “you are such a cool person, we should exchange numbers and meet up again at the park next week.” Why is this so hard!! Where and how do we form new relationships?

One of the easiest and most fulfilling way to build these relationships is by getting involved with other people that have similar interests as you. You can do this so many ways. Show up for a mass or sunday church service and ask an usher how to join the church. Google 5K races in your area and sign up as a volunteer. Donate an afternoon with Habitat for Humanity. All of these are great places to meet other cool people that have similar interests as you, and give you an opportunity to meet and talk with new people in a non-creepy way.

By forming new relationships and connections, we start to feel a sense of community and belonging. These positive connections fight against the feeling of isolation and gives us satisfaction in their daily lives. This satisfaction is compounded when we focus not just on the impact it has on us, but to those around us. When we also turn our eyes and hearts to the needs of others, it gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Earl Nightingale*, the famous radio commentator and authority on human character, success & meaningful existence, puts it like this:

A vital rule to successful living is to understand that our success is won or lost by our ability to serve others. We are interdependent, and it's just as impossible to succeed without serving others as it would be to live in our modern world without others serving us. Our rewards in life will and must always be an exact proportion to our service. It is the misunderstanding of this single law, which in my mind is responsible for fully 90% of the frustration and discontent we see around us now. A lot of people don't like this law, if they're even aware of it, but not liking a law does nothing to change it. The basic laws of nature and economics are unchanging.

I see this in my own social circles. One of the surprising truths in becoming acquainted and friends with successful people is the common thread of service. Take a look around, and you will find successful people on the boards of charities, creating and leading new causes, designing service projects & retreats, and donating to charitable funds.

This is not in opposition of their personal success or wealth, this is in direct alignment. Our lives aren’t designed to be first create wealth and then when you have time and money, start thinking of others. Rather, service is like yeast leavening the bread, it feeds your own personal success.

When you develop your mind to be that of a giving, caring human being, your thoughts and actions tend to gravitate on and recognize opportunities to serve. With this service comes deep fulfillment and purpose. With fulfillment comes happiness, and with happiness comes creativity and risk taking that feeds success with new ventures and new leadership positions. Service, Success & Happiness are truly interconnected, cyclical and mutually dependent.


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