Regardless of our personalities, we all have a desire to connect with others and be part of a group. We want to be known for our strengths and accepted for who we are. Our motivation, interests, and happiness are inevitably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that shares common aspirations. In this article, we will discuss the concept of having a sense of community and why it is important.
Having a sense of community is important to our happiness and well-being. However, busy lifestyles, changing careers, juggling family and profession, living in other countries, or moving to a new town make it more difficult for us to find the time and confidence to connect with others.
Psychologists David McMillan and David Chavis define the the sense of community as a feeling that members matter to one another and the group; a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together.
According to the McMillan & Chavis theory, there are four elements of sense of community. These are:
1. Membership – personal relatedness, being a part of the community, feeling the right to belong, identification with the group
2. Influence – members having a say on what happens to the group, consensual validation, conformity
3. Integration and fulfillment of needs – reinforcement, group success, shared values
4. Shared emotional connection – shared events, time together, similar experiences, relationships and bonds among members, positive experiences
The Importance of Having a Sense of Community
Gives you a sense of identity – Ideally, a sense of identity should come from within an individual, and not from external factors. But many join a group to give them a sense of identity. People identify themselves with the advocacy or ideals of the groups they belong to.
Provides moral support – Having a sense of community to people with compassion and plenty of life experiences can offer comfort during stressful or challenging times. Knowing that you’re not alone can boost morale and help you overcome problems.
Can boost your self-esteem – A sense of belonging comes with feelings of being wanted, and this makes you feel valuable. Although your self-worth should not be dictated by other people, still, the fact remains that membership in a group will give you more confidence.
Helps you make sense of the world around you – Belonging to a group gives you a deeper understanding and perspective of how and why things happen the way they do. Listening to other people’s opinions can give you a more encompassing and holistic view of the world around you.
Gives you direction in life – Some people don’t have a clear idea what they want to do with their lives. Discussion and social comparison with other group members can help guide an individual in making important decisions. More importantly, it can give you a sense of purpose.
Having a sense of community brings social, mental, and emotional benefits.Belonging to a group allows people to find substance and meaning in their lives. It can help you feel happier, confident, and more secure. As the saying goes, “There’s safety in numbers.” Because belonging helps us survive.