We’re very sociable creatures, us humans. We like to fit in, we like to belong, and it’s good for our wellbeing. I hadn’t really thought too much about this in recent years, and certainly not from my own point of view. My girls have variously belonged to youth clubs and forums, Brownies, sports clubs and music groups and that’s something that we actively encourage our children to do so that they broaden our horizons, meet new friends and develop their skills.
For too many adults, though, that’s something that gets forgotten as we get older. It wasn’t until over the last year when I’ve got involved with a couple of knit ‘n’ natter groups that I’ve been reminded of just how powerful the act of belonging actually is. We spend time with like-minded people, we become involved in a communal activity, and we have the opportunity to have conversations outside of those that we would normally have. Our horizons are broadened once more and our well-being tanks are topped up.
I don’t think that it matters what sort of group you belong to (although one that lifts people up rather than pulling them down is obviously the most beneficial); I think it is the act of belonging that is the important thing. So what if you aren’t the best golfer in the club? If you enjoy being on the course in the fresh air in the company of other golfers, that’s the main thing. Your skill level at whatever you do is largely irrelevant, in my opinion. As long as you are doing something that you love to do then your wellbeing is automatically improved. And that is where I think the magic happens. Once our wellbeing improves, suddenly it opens up other doors in our lives. I know of people who found the courage to return to studying years after they left school, fulfilling a life-long ambition. I know of people who, after spending too much time on their own and afraid to socialize, became able to hold conversations with people they would never have dreamed of talking to - and just because they felt that they belonged.
We never like to think that our children are being left out at school and yet we seem to be happy in our older years being on our own. Left to our own devices or left out? I’m sure that sometimes the answer is both, and only we can decide whether that makes us happy or not. From my own experience, being in the company of others who enjoy doing something that I also like to do, and have experience, knowledge and passion for the activity to share is something that I had not realised I was missing until it became a part of my life. Our wellbeing tanks can never be too full, but they can be too empty and I believe it’s important to do something about that while we can.