Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
It’s a principle as old as time.
You become what you surround yourself with. And any major achievement in life, health related or not, is possible because of outside help. This why weight loss programs and diet fads can be so successful. It’s one common goal that a whole mess of people buy into.
Weight Watchers and CrossFit offer community. It’s a “We“. Not an “I“.
“We can do. We’ve got your back. We’re in this together.”
If it’s just little ol’ “I”, the obvious doubt arises: Can I do this?
The truth is you can. But you have to get out of your comfortable hiding place and get into community where it’s less comfortable. Assuming that it’s a healthy and diverse place, everything you want for yourself is going be achieved within the context of the group. Like a friend of mine says, “Every story of success is a story of community”.
Here are the top ways being a part of something bigger helps us get what we want and, ultimately, what we need.
we need something to measure ourselves by
Notice I use the word measure not compare. Important distinction.
Without a group consensus, we’d be shooting arrows in the dark. Groups tend to create standards that become accepted by the whole. Not that we need to fall into the comparison trap, but we need to see ourselves and our progress in light of others around us. This is important because there’s danger of undervaluing our individual progress and undercutting our potential to do better.
Some in the group are going to reach challenging goals and we need to see that to know what’s possible. Likewise, when we’re flying solo we may do something radical and never give ourselves a pat on the back. Not recognizing a win can lead to burn out and discouragement.
We use the group to inform our next steps and troubleshoot when we’re stuck.
we need to be needed
I recently heard a story about one of the most successful missionaries in the middle east. He was beloved by people and everyone spoke of him with the utmost respect and warmth.
An interviewer asked what was so unique about this particular missionary. “When he needed something, he asked us for help. Every other missionary came only wanting to give help. We needed to be needed and that made us feel valuable.”
What’s amazing about being in progress is that we can still offer support. Just because we’re not exactly where we want to be, that doesn’t mean we have to wait to pitch in an help others out.
we need actual physical support
Sometimes we need physical touch or human interaction.
I needed someone to be with me while I cleaned out a section of my bedroom I had been avoiding for 2 years. I needed a doctors loving touch when my neck was severely injured. I needed a hug from a friend when I was feeling out of control.
Even if the community is virtual, you can still get physical support in the form of a phone call, a Skype session, an ongoing chat, or a letter in the mail.
we need to be seen
Having others simply witness our journey gives us the accountability and audience we need to break through bad habits and get results.
When I’m alone I’m far less likely to clean. When I know I have guests coming, I feel super motivated to complete a home improvement project to help my guests feel welcome and comfortable.
We need people to see us evolve. Stepping into the light of community provides the truth telling we need to grow. I hate being called out in the moment. But who else is going to do it? Can we ever really do that for ourselves? I don’t think so.
You can’t grow if you’re not willing to be called on your crap, if you know what I mean.
we need quick results
I’m not a fan of quick results gained at the expense of lasting results. Trust me!
I’d rather take 10 years to build something that’s going to last a lifetime, than a few months to build something that will be gone as quickly as I got it.
However, groups naturally save us time and help us avoid making unnecessary mistakes. If this is possible, then why not do it?
We learn and adapt more quickly when we’re using the multiplied wisdom of the group. The more people there are, the more experiences there are to be passed on, the less heart-ache you endure, the faster you see results. It sounds simple. But it’s not. It’s just the power of being in community.
where to find community
There are lots of ways to be in community.
You can join a MeetUp, get a part-time job, find a new church, take an art class or attend book readings in your area. You can even join communities online, like private Facebook groups or email lists like the Wellness Tribe that I run.
There are tons of ways to make friends with like-hearted people. If you’ve been stalled out in a particular area and want to get in gear, then I challenge you to get into community.