Lifestyle and Living
Jan 2024 | By Jane Enright
We all feel wonderful when we experience a healthy sense of belonging! It might be a special place, a group of individuals, altruistic activity, volunteering, or membership that brings us together with others, touches our heart, and supports us to feel valued, supported, and happy.
Belonging is a fundamental human need, and crucial for our emotional well-being and sense of identity. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs it is also a crucial component of our quality of life. It extends beyond personal uniqueness to encompass our connection with the community around us.
When we know ourselves, and are comfortable with who we are, and understand what brings us joy, contentment, and a feeling of safety, this improves our mental well-being. It also enables us to better relate to the outside world and foster a sense of belonging. Consequently, cultivating belonging within ourselves and our community is a reciprocal process, where both personal growth and collective involvement play integral roles.
Sometimes when change happens such as relocating and moving house, our connections, routines, and rituals change too. This is when it becomes important to revise our habits and ensure we have relationships and activities in our lives that are healthy, and nurture our mind, body and soul.
In today’s fast-paced and digitally connected world, fostering a sense of belonging and community has become more vital than ever. Whether it’s in a neighborhood, workplace, or online space, a strong community contributes to a healthy lifestyle and collective growth.
One way to foster a sense of belonging within ourselves and community is to get involved with activities that promote beliefs you value, such as kindness, inclusivity and generosity. Sharing acts of kindness are a fun way to spread joy, especially through uncertain times. Sharing kindness helps us feel better and helps those who receive it. Studies by researchers at the Greater Good Institute at the University of California at Berkeley have “linked” performing repeated acts of kindness to releasing dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain that can give us a feeling of euphoria and happiness. When we are kind to others, we feel healthier, happier and more connected with a sense of belonging.
While kindness does not make us immune to negative feelings, cultivating relationships with others who feel similarly and work together to make the world a better place can support you to nourish a healthy sense of community as you move through change. This is because sharing kindness helps magnify positive emotions, rather than negative ones. Consequently, sharing kindness connects and rewards all of us. When we make it a practice to be helpful regularly, not only are we helping others, we are helping ourselves stay positive during uncertain times. It reminds us that we are all in this together.
In that spirit, here are some fun ideas inspired in part by the David Suzuki Foundation to help you, and your community, begin the new year on a high note, flourish, and nourish, a sense of belonging within yourself, and your community!
Host A Neighbourhood Party To Donate To A Good Cause
Coordinate your party with other events such a garage sale. Pair activities for a good cause with a donation theme for a local food bank. Consider offering food, entertainment, music and prizes from local businesses. Or make it a donation drive for a cause you care about.
Tap into resident’s local talents and interests. Solicit help with flyers, food, and clean-up. A week or two before the big day, drop invitations into mailboxes, put up signs (date, time address), and prepare to meet your neighbours.
Most municipalities offer incentives and financial grants for community activities so contact your local MPP, town councilor, or property manager for details to help make your ideas happen!
Organize a Repair Café
We all have items that need to be repaired, although we may not have the skills we need to do so. Encourage your community members to share their talents and swap the services you need while saving money. This can evolve and be a great idea to get to know people, celebrate unique skills, save money, build social connections, and spend meaningful time together.
Skilled volunteers fix your household items so you don’t have to throw them away and buy new ones. This could include computers, jewelry, lamps, furniture, clothes, etc. Most “fixers” are hobbyists who enjoy helping others and want to reduce the number of items in landfills.
Post a sign-up sheet (paper or online). Organize skills sets into categories (gardening, home repairs, writing, tech support, bike tune-ups, dog walking, clothing alterations, etc.) For inspiration, download a startup package from the Repair Café Foundation. The diversity of skills makes it fun, practical, and the possibilities are endless!
Start a Dinner Party Club
Meeting monthly, biweekly for coffee, or a meal, is a simple way to share healthy foods you may not have tried, become more knowledgeable about cultural traditions, and nourish new relationships.
Get creative with themes, décor, have people volunteer to host a “progressive dinner party” where hosts plan and organize different meal courses. Invite a chef to conduct a cooking class. Meet indoors, or outdoors, at your local community room, or virtually via zoom or Facetime.
Whether it be virtually, or in person, sharing meals, and celebrating occasions together is a healthy way to promote a happier lifestyle.
Making cleaning and body care products is easy! Learn new skills and connect with others while reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals.
Plan your “make and take” event as part of an evening with friends, baby shower, lunch ‘n’ learn at the office — or any other planet-friendly event you’re organizing. Invite family, neighbours, friends, co-workers, peers or parents from school.
Use these DIY cleaning recipes or make your own non-toxic body care products! Supply the ingredients (buy bulk) and ask people to bring jars or containers to fill. (Never recycle another glass bottle or jar!) Maybe apply for a local community grant to cover your costs or pitch the idea to a local community centre or library.
Join a Book Club
Book Clubs are a fantastic way to meet and cultivate new friendships, discuss a variety of topics, encourage meaningful conversation, and flourish as a lifelong learner. Clubs can meet virtually or in-person, and be a fun pastime to look forward to.
Promote Canadian authors by perusing the Canadian Book Club Awards for award winning books in all genres. Invite fellow readers via email or telephone, or an online meet-up, post a sign-up sheet, arrange a monthly time to meet and field suggestions from sites such as Goodreads for book suggestions from fellow readers. Consider inviting a local author to join the conversation and share their favourite recommended reads!
Happy January and warmest wishes for new beginnings with a fresh sense of belonging in 2024!
Jane is helping audiences worldwide land “butter side up” find joy, successfully manage change, and create new beginnings and fresh starts after the unexpected. You can connect with Jane on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. For more information and to get in touch visit janeenrightauthor.com.