21. Maslow 3 - Sense Of Belonging



Feeling Accepted as You Really Are - Sense of Belonging

Human connection brings complex values to our lives. Relationships give us a sense of belonging, to another, to a group, a sense of identity in contrast to others in that group, an almost therapeutic-support system, and a reason not to feel lonely. We learn from others’ experiences and insight and we learn together by pursuing new experiences alongside those we befriend. And on a very basic level, therapy involves this principle as well. Sitting and reading a book about psychology will rarely be as beneficial as sitting and talking with a therapist or counselor. It’s the interactive exchange that makes all the difference. 


Many people are so unhappy that they find a therapist or counselor to work through their struggles. Plenty more people are content enough with their lives, but there are some who are truly happy. Where does that happiness come from? Does money buy it? Self-confidence? Safety? Support systems? A fulfilling job? Pets? Everyone’s combination of life experience is different, but repeated studies have identified that some groups tend to be happier than others.


Recent studies have looked a bit closer at the happiness quotient of two, specific (though very different) groups -

People who live in “walkable” neighborhoods, and

People who are involved in church.

Both had one major factor in common - human relationships.


First, churchgoers. Religion’s “secret ingredient” for making people happy, says the study, are the social ties people build when involved in a religious community. This is not to say that private spirituality is without positive psychological value. Past studies have found that spirituality reduces both stress and depression, but those who attend church and build relationships there, are consistently happier than those who attend and do not build relationships.


Second, the study on walkable neighborhoods and well-being. Walkable neighborhoods provide easy access to post offices, parks, restaurants, playgrounds, barbershops, and club meeting venues. People who live in walkable neighborhoods tend to build “social capital”, that is they are more likely to meet people, become involved in community volunteer work, build relationships through that work, and ultimately feel happier.        


A child (and we all) needs at least one dependable, significant adult in their life. Everyone deserves self worth and the dignity of their own thoughts and opinions. When we listen to another person, it means that what they say matters, more importantly, they matter. If we've been 'shut up' for years, we shut down our creativity and confidence. We all need attention.


A word about self help. Whilst self help techniques such as meditation and yoga etc, may be beneficial, they produce an individualistic mentality which privatizes our issues. The problem being, the person is most likely already isolated. We cannot live in isolation. There is no self that exists, other than how self exists with others. We must learn to express emotion in healthy and constructive ways or we end up expressing destructively. A child may hammer a toy, but an adult punches a wall. The message in the head is the same regardless of size.


"Once I could be the real ME, I was free to be a legitimate part of a group. I joined a serving community feeding and housing the street-people, joined Rotary and looked for ways to let the world know the keys to a better life through understanding holistic mental health".

Food For Thought


What new knowledge did you gain from this lesson?


Now that you know this, how could it be applied?