How Finding Belonging Improves Your City / by Amy DeRosia

The Possibility of a Place

No matter where you live, some people are going to love your city. Others will hate it. You can help alleviate important problems where you are. But, you're only effective if you are healthy and happy.

There is a lot of talk about the "potential" of our communities being great places to live...or not.  In my city, these conversations happen at least weekly on social media. I see it as a good sign because these questions rarely seemed to come up before a few years ago.

One of the things I notice about people who like living in Shreveport-Bossier City is that they have built strong social ties here. They also often have a lot of family around and/or meaningful projects they’re involved in.

Finding the evidence to support your views about a place is easy. All of the statistics and opinions we’re exposed to shape the stories we tell ourselves about our cities. Watch the local news to see the scariest thing that happened near you today. Read articles full of positive or negative numbers about crime, poverty, education, jobs, ect. What can one person do with all of this information?

We protest, volunteer, petition, or write letters to the editor about things we want to see changed. All of this is good. But, these problems are complex and take time. Caring so much about an issue without seeing results can be frustrating and disempowering. They're too complicated for one person to take on alone.

Having a cause or a mission is wonderful. Our efforts are relevant and important. But, there are many other aspects of creating a meaningful existence.

 Loneliness Hurts Our Communities

Loneliness is an invitation to recognize that our hearts have more capacity to love. The same way hunger pangs tell us when we need nourishment and energy, loneliness is our heart’s way of encouraging us to engage.
— Shasta Nelson

In order to show up in the world in a big way, you need the support and energy of good people around you. The more of an impact you want to make, the more you need to prioritize connection. When you're not taking care of yourself, you have nothing to give anyone else. 

I’ve been reading an excellent book by Shasta Nelson called Friendships Don’t Just Happen. She quotes Dr. Jacqueline Olds, a Psychiatrist who has done a lot of research on loneliness. Dr. Olds says, “Aside from genetics, the two most important factors in longevity are exercise and a network of friends.”  In the same way we should make time to go to the gym, we should consider scheduling quality time in our relationships everyday.

Disconnection is an epidemic in our society. Not priotizing our needs for community is understandable. We're busy and finding new friends or deepening existing relationships is difficult. But, there is always a ripple effect.

Whether it’s updates we post on Facebook, comments we make anonymously on blogs, interactions we have with our family, or the way we relate with our colleagues, loneliness can bleed out in ways that leave other people feeling worse. Then, when those people mirror that behavior, an entire web of pain from our loneliness has been created.
— Shasta Nelson

When we're unhappy, we spread negativity to everyone around us -in person, on social media networks, strangers we drive near, ect. They are all affected by the energy we bring into the world. Then, they pass it on to everyone they come in contact with.

You have a choice about the type of influence you have on others. Take good care of yourself. Identify the types of friendships you need to create and be grateful for the relationships you already have.

You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things
— Jamie Tworkowski

When you find your people and a way to be of service where you are, it is difficult not to love your community. Make your life great, so you have something to give. We can bring so much joy into each others lives. 

How do you make time to enjoy Life where you are?  Let me know in the Comments.