Can we truly grow without community?

The question came to me earlier this year at the cinema when I was watching an on-screen discussion on all things religion, philosophy and human survival.

On a road trip to Spain, the main characters of the movie 303 pose the idea that Neanderthals became extinct because of a lack of cooperation.

We know that Neanderthals and modern humans had a complicated relationship, and it’s been said that the fate of the Neanderthals came out of clashes with the first modern humans – through violence, competitive replacement and competitive exclusion. Ultimately, these two species could not co-exist as competitors.

So now, more than 600,000 years later, have we learned nothing?

As humans, do we thrive when we are competing with one another or when we learn to cooperate? 

I know that I find peace and encouragement when I am surrounded by the right kind of community.

Don’t you? The feeling of ‘belonging’ or even just the desire to belong can be a very powerful thing. In my journey of self discovery, the knowledge and inspiration I absorbed from others around me not only helped to guide my own personal journey, but made me strive for the success of others in my community. It’s another way of looking at the ‘survival of the fittest’.

Take, for example, supportive communities like AA or Weight Watchers where people come together to share their progress, struggles and, most challenging, their failures.

What is the secret to their success?

It could be about a sense of responsibility – where being part of a group holds you accountable for others achieving their goals. Or we could use the idea of ‘group survival’, which is about the creation of a network and a safety net to pull yourself back up.

When things in life become unsure and confusing, we all want to be held and supported. Even those people who are too shy to say so, or on the other hand, those who are too rebellious to admit. But we all want to find people that we can connect with and talk to.

I believe that a group is always the best foundation for learning faster. Groups naturally have a synergistic effect on people.

Of course, this will only work in your favour with the right kind of community around you. When we keep the company of people that don’t want to grow, we will be pulled into their direction instead. And even with the right group, the benefits won’t come if you don’t commit and make use of the tools available to you in your community – think of it as your own personalised toolbox. 

When things in life become unsure and confusing, we all want to be held and supported. Even those people who are too shy to say so, or on the other hand, those who are too rebellious to admit. But we all want to find people that we can connect with and talk to. When we are in ‘rebellious mode’, we often can’t see the value of a group. It’s normal to mistake this feeling with a sense of independence. With so many self-help tools available to us, like books, apps, websites or blogs, people set out on these journeys believing they can deal with everything alone. But there is huge value in having people around you along the way. It’s about the experience and support, to jump over the hurdles quicker. 

The idea of ‘group survival’ is that humans are more concerned with the survival of groups than individual survival.

Farnam Street outlines that “groups survive better if they have individuals with different strengths to draw on.” It makes sense right? The more tools you have, the better equipped you are to succeed in a project. The more different types of people you have in a community, the more prepared you will be for unexpected circumstances.

When we see ourselves as part of a group, we want the group to survive and even thrive. It’s no longer just about being the best you can be as an individual, but wanting the best for your community.

 

In my online support group (Creating Space) you will learn the value of living a life in sync with the circadian rhythms. Long ago, these were already discovered by the vedis through the act of dinarcharya and the yogis ( outlining Yamas and Niyamas). Most members make mind-blowing leaps and are able to stick to their resolutions, rather than only gaining some advice and a recipe on how to live their day and mend their health. But the group truly holds them to their own set of standards and helps them to keep moving, inch by inch.

 

Join us, if you dare.

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