As the executive director of the Sedona Community Center, where we serve a community lunch and provide Meals on Wheels to the community, and have activities available to the community, as you might suspect, the word ‘community’ is pretty important to me. Most of us know instinctively that we are social animals and quite possibly you make specific efforts to connect with others. In today’s column, I would like to give you several great reasons why a sense of ‘community’ is significant and how you might enhance your involvement even further.
- Sense of Belonging and Acceptance: You can be you. A genuine community doesn’t ask its members to change although through inspiration your true self may be enhanced. There is a profound sense of security in inclusion to an effective community.
- Magnified Influence and Expanded Social Realm: Whether personally or for business matters, we find that we need the assistance of others just as we may be of assistance to others, too. Sometimes this factor manifests as an actual, tangible need such as having a fence repaired. Other times, the intangible influence of contributing your ideas to a local societal issue such as the traffic problem in Sedona may come into play. Either way, being introduced and accessible to people in your community provides reciprocal benefit.
- Mutual Support and Shared Lessons: Many of us, somewhere along life’s way, figured out that we can learn from other people’s mistakes and thereby avoid many of them ourselves. The security of a supportive community allows us to risk the vulnerability of exposing our mistakes, past problems, and frailties. When those challenging times come, gleaning insight from an associate that has lived through it can provide emotional support. Likewise, we help others when we impart wisdom on how we got through the tough times.
- New Opportunities, Exploration, and Experiences: Generally speaking, a truly successful, vibrant community is going to be comprised of, and make, successful, active members who engage in exciting and fun experiences. Opportunities and invitations to achieve ‘bucket list’ events, business ventures, or spontaneous adventures abound within a dynamic community. It may be an actual trip or perhaps a random stream of consciousness explored in a new and refreshing way.
- Motivation and Inspiration: All of the above advantages of engaging in your community may result in increasing your own motivation and inspiration. The synergy, encouragement, and mutual observations of a strong community have a way of infusing the same positive energy into each of its members.
There are many studies that accentuate the need for community interaction and the pitfalls of isolation. A well-documented nine year follow-up report on mortality provides significant data on the dangers of social disconnect. The study out of Alameda, California tracking nearly 7,000 people showed individuals disconnected from their communities were almost three times more likely to die during that time period. More research led by B.H. Brummett at Duke University Medical Center concluded that patients with coronary artery disease “with small social networks had an elevated risk of mortality.”
The great news is that community is all around us. If you would like to expand your social network, I invite you try a class or join us for lunch at the Sedona Community Center. The ‘Proven Brain Activities for Living Younger’ class, for example, is an intriguing new event that will expand your personal community and your well-being. The fee is a reasonable $5 and class meets every Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. led by certified instructor, Laura Vandegrift. If you are not able to leave your home due to health concerns, our Meals on Wheels service can provide you with a hot, nutritious meal delivered by a friendly volunteer that cares about your well-being. More information about the Sedona Community Center can be found at www.sccsedona.org or visit us at 2615 Melody Lane.