“All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” (Paul McCartney).
MUCH OF THE SADNESS OF LIFE COMES FROM KNOWING THERE ARE SO MANY LONELY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. Too few of us are rooted in safe relationships. Too few of us feel that we belong to any certain place or group of people. The times are changing, and we’re in danger of becoming a world of strangers.
Yet there is still more belongingness to be enjoyed in the world than many people know about, and most of us have it within our power to help others have a greater sense of belonging than they presently enjoy. Indeed, one of the greatest acts of kindness is to help someone else feel more “at home.” The very least we can do is make them feel more secure in their relationship with us, but even with regard to their more general surroundings, it’s often possible to help people see that they “belong” to those around them more than they’ve been in the habit of thinking. It’s almost always true that people are wanted and needed more than they realize, and it’s a wonderfully generous thing to help them see this welcome truth.
We do the best job of encouraging others in this area when we are secure in our own sense of belonging. We can’t give what we don’t have, so we need to broaden our perspective enough to see the good ways in which we’re connected to those around us. We must learn to be comfortable and content in our own surroundings.
It can help us, as well as others, to see that the world is a big place filled with lots of interesting variety. When we think of belonging, if we have only one picture in our minds of a place where we think we could belong, we’re probably going to be unhappy in the real world. The amazing truth is, however, that we’re much more adaptable than we think we are, and there are many, many different scenarios in which we might find the joy that comes from belonging.
The joy of belonging is within the reach of almost all of us, regardless of our external circumstances. Being a person who belongs is for the most part a matter of choice. Its requirements may be challenging, but they’re simple: awareness, acceptance, and appreciation.
“Joy of life seems to me to arise from a sense of being where one belongs” (David Grayson).