Although we savor the freedom to be ourselves, and, not withstanding our lifelong quest to be who we will become, we instinctively seek something more. We struggle against autonomy and dependence, against solitude and togetherness.
We need people in our lives. Dream Gliding recognizes the need for humans to intermingle with one another to experience one of the greatest joys possible —human interaction. Our search is for a commune or tribe of like-minded individuals who will celebrate both our uniqueness and sameness. When we are accepted into a tribal community, we experience a commonality of body and spirit. Group acceptance provides the satisfaction of being part of something larger than ourselves.
Group membership allows us to evolve and mature as we shed our selfish ego states and see ourselves in relationship to others. This is when we discover our connection to the world and community of man. William C. Menninger (1899 – 1966), co-founder of The Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, an internationally known center for treatment of behavioral disorders, understood the importance of connection to a greater whole: “Maturity is the capacity to love, to care about other people in the broadest sense…and to continue to increase this capacity beyond our families to the community, to the state, to the nation, and to this shrinking little world.”
American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908 -1970) considered to be the Father of Humanistic Psychology, pioneered the concept that acceptance into a community is one of man’s strongest needs. Maslow placed this immediately after physiological and safety needs. We all have a strong longing to be accepted in a community. We do this for safety and security, but also for happiness and fulfillment. Life begs to be shared with others and is more meaningful when at least one significant other accompanies us along our journey. It becomes sweeter and more profound when shared through different eyes. Writer Elizabeth Hopper noted that Maslow called the third layer of his Hierarchy of Needs pyramid,
‘Love and Belonging.’ This layer involved emotionally-based relationships such as friendship, sexual intimacy and having a supportive and communicative family. She wrote:
“According to Maslow, the next need in the hierarchy involves feeling loved and accepted. This need includes both romantic relationships as well as ties to friends and family members. It also includes our need to feel that we belong to a social group. Importantly, this need encompasses both feeling loved and feeling love towards others.
“Since Maslow’s time, researchers have continued to explore
how love and belonging needs impact well-being. For example, having social connections is related to better physical health and, conversely, feeling isolated (i.e. having unmet belonging needs) has negative consequences for health and well-being.”
There are established, sacrosanct rules determining group acceptance. Entrance into a group is gained, not based upon some random, haphazard whim, but solely because of our attributes and talents. It could be argued that, despite our human failings and eccentricities, our tribe accepts us in a total and unconditional way. We are valued because we contribute to the group, and are regarded as special, unique, and irreplaceable.
The article “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe: How to Find ‘Your’ People,” published on the Blogging & Business site, describes the varied benefits of being accepted into a community: “They will share in your interests, they will cheer you on when you succeed, and commiserate with you in your failures. Your tribe will accept you for who you are. They will be your support system, your cheering squad, and will provide you with a sense of community that you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.”
African medical missionary and 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965) noted, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” While communities can enhance our quality of life, we must be active participants in the process. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who will accept you energetically, without hesitation. It is important to choose friends wisely and then champion those relationships.
“Be true to your work, your word, and your friends” wrote American United States writer and social critic Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and, over 200 years ago, Founding Father and U.S. President George Washington (1732-1799) advised “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
“Mingle often with good people to keep your soul nourished” suggested Canadian spiritualist Anthony Douglas Williams 1953-). Douglas succinctly and concisely articulated the premise of Dream Gliding. He believed he wrote his book, Inside the Devine Pattern, to “reveal the Divine message hidden in lost knowledge and ancient mysteries, showing links between modern scientists and ancient philosophers.” Williams celebrated the joy of friendship and human connection, realizing that we must work on making these relationships complete. But for those who shun human companionship, dark clouds soon gather. Austrian psychoanalyst Alfred Adler (1870-1937) suggested that, “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”
Brand Marketer Lauren Perkins, author of The Community Manager’s Playbook: How to Build Brand Awareness and Customer Engagement, believes that engaged communities help promote behavioral changes in group members.
“Frequently, motivational systems bring people together, by using the power of accountability and a peer reinforcement model to reach goals. People involved in these communities have behaviors that are impacting their day-to-day lives that they want to change. Members can replace their previous behaviors through the support and guidance of the group and its community leaders.
“Weight Watchers, with a daily points system and weekly group weigh-ins, enables members to hold each other accountable and celebrate with each other as their numbers on the scale go down.”
The importance of tribal membership is without question, yet there are other voices raising disparate opinions. U2 singer and songwriter Bono said, “To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.” There exists a juncture, a special place where individual uniqueness merges with the exquisite uniqueness found in a group setting. This is why we gravitate to our tribes. Sean Bolton, founder of Meesto, a social marketing tool, arrived at a similar place, concluding that we join groups sharing our unique differences:
“When joining a community people ask two questions: 1) Are
they like me? and 2) Will they like me? The answer to these two fundamental human questions determine whether a person will become and stay part of a community. In designing a community, it is important to support potential members in answering these questions – be clear about what you stand for and make people feel welcome. The welcoming portion requires extra work in the beginning to ensure that a new member forms relationships with people in the community. These relationships keep people part of a community.”
One of the best strategies for personal growth and accomplishment is networking, the social art of bringing new people into your circle. Best-selling self-help book author and award-winning designer Karen Salmansohn recommends, “Surround yourself with people who clearly love your light….and add to it!” Meet new people. Discover common interests. Forge relationships. The amount of energy placed into cultivating relationships will be repaid many times over. Cultivate friends and not enemies. “Hold on to the people and things that really matter. Let most of the other stuff go,” advised author and speaker Michael Josephson.
Being true to our community takes a circuitous pathway. At times it’s easy, but other times, it is possibly the most difficult thing we will do. Sometimes our friends are in a dark and hopeless place, incapable of allowing others into their lives. A thin voice cries out for help. Be there for them. Nurture your connection with them, and, in the spirit of altruism, enjoy a renewed sense of purpose as an important part of their support system. Reaching out to others encompasses a much larger scope as articulated by Jack Kornfield, “The work of your heart, the work of taking time, to listen, to help, is also your gift to the whole of the world.”
Always show kindness and treat people with respect, working hard to establish and maintain relationships. Nurture and cherish them. Make a spiritual connection through compassion and empathy. In Alcoholics Anonymous the twelve stepper is a person who goes out and shares the message of recovery to those who still suffer. AA maintains that “in order to keep it, we must give it away,” sharing our most important gift with others.
The best thing that communities do is to help others. And, as members of that group we should lend a helping hand and speak an encouraging word. Let your heart be warm, kind, and altruistic. When you speak your truth, say your words in peace and in a benevolent voice and as Neale Donald Walsch suggested, “Seek to say what needs to be said with softness, and with a wide-open heart. Remember, the truth can hurt… but it hurts a lot less if you care how it feels while saying it.” And along those lines, American journalist William Allen White (1868 – 1944) observed that: “If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own… how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.” Kindness and altruism within the community is what bonds us together.
Even more importantly, the morals, values, and behaviors of a community are passed on down throughout the generations. “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children,” preached German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an anti-Nazi dissident who died at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany.
Our tribal community may have additional benefits, as well. Tonigan suggests that the spirituality of being closely connected to others is an important part of an individual’s ability to successfully recover from addiction. He says:
“While it may not be possible to measure spirituality in an empirical sense, it may be possible to clarify what role spirituality plays in aiding sustained recovery and prevention … We will suggest connectedness as an integral component in defining spirituality … as gaining knowledge through connectedness to others.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A healthy person will ask for aid while an ego-driven person foolishly attempts to do everything by himself or herself. This is a product of vanity and a sacrilege against our tribal community. When in need, actively seek out a mentor or guide. Listen to the people who have scaled that mountain inspiring us to become the best version of ourselves. We need people in our lives. Motivational speaker Les Brown (b. 1945) says, “It’s important to have someone in your life who can take you to a place in yourself that you can’t go by yourself.” Haile Selassie (1892-1975) former Emperor of Ethiopia, who eventually became known as a prophet and messiah of the Rastafari religious movement, and seen today as a divine being by Rastafarians, reflected those words of wisdom:
“We must become bigger than we have been; more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.”
Dream Gliding suggests that we respect the wisdom granted by tribal communities who have predated us. We watch as the universe unfolds in perfect order and in its own time. We search for the mysteries of the ancients, and for what we deem to be our truth. And we learn it is not about us but about our place in the world, and, like the shaman emerging from the wasteland, we too will embrace that truth that is as tangible as the sea’s ebb and flow. In the end, the reality is that each one of us are mystics and teachers, and prophets, here to teach one another in the beautiful synergy of our tribal community.
Maxim W. Furek has a rich background that includes aspects of psychology, addictions, mental health, and music journalism. His book, The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin explores the dark marriage between grunge music and the beginning of the opioid crisis. Learn more at www.shepptonmyth.com.