While Community was a good show that I thought had a lot of interesting storytelling methods throughout the course of the series, it is not what I am talking about today. I want to talk about the community that we all build up around us every day.
I believe that building healthy communities within our friend groups and neighborhood can be a powerful way to make the world a better place. That may seem like an exaggeration to you, but there is so much good that comes out of a healthy and caring community.
- You can learn so much from those around you. It is extremely easy these days to find yourself in an “echo chamber” of ideas that match your own. Getting outside of those environments and hearing from other perspectives and experiences makes us all more empathetic and understanding of others. As an example, I’ve enjoyed getting to spend time with my neighbors who are in different life stages than we are. It’s great to learn from folks who have been married longer, have kids, started their own business, etc. I will admit though, this aspect of community is the one that I struggle with the most, as it is easy for me to stay in my comfort zone.
- Having friends who you can be open and honest with helps make you a more authentic person. This one is an advanced level of community that not everyone has, but is so valuable if you put in the work to develop it. I have friends that I see on a weekly basis who I know I can talk to about anything. Having a support system outside of marriage is a huge plus. And as an added benefit, I know my friends will be honest with me if they see areas of my life that I can improve, which makes me a better and more authentic person.
- You can save money and learn new skills. May not be something you consider as a benefit of community, but it absolutely is. As an example, last weekend I was able to use the skills I learned working on my own house to help my neighbor install a new electric car charger (electric cars are awesome) and save him some money. And he is using his skills to help me fix up my bike and turn it into a reliable commuter for going to work. We are able to help one another because we have a diverse set of skills, even though there is absolutely no requirement for payback because friends help each other out. As another example, two couples that we know are about to have their first kids and our friend group is able to provide multiple nights of free babysitting so that they can take time for themselves and their relationship.
So often, I find myself a little overwhelmed with all of the discord and bickering that seems to go on every day in our current time. In those times, it is really comforting to remember that in my day-to-day life I have a community of friends and neighbors that support one another regardless of our upbringings, or political views, or any other divisive topic these days. I encourage you all to take some time and consider if you are building a healthy and supportive community for yourself. If not, give it a shot. Invite your neighbors over for a grilled pizza night (trust me, it’s amazing) or see if you have a skill or talent that can help a friend.