My Grandfather was a wise man, one of the many lessons he shared with my father and made it all the way down to me was the saying “bring me a sick man, not a dead man.” It was a simple way to rationalize that you don’t let problems get out of hand before you ask for help.
I grew up being very independent and it is a big part of my nature. I experienced life for many years just trying to do things on my own and professing self reliance as the best way to accomplish things. American society certainly fosters the growth of individualism and can do attitude. Then different events in my life made me realize that I was never alone and that even when someone says “you can do it!” just the simple fact of cheering you on is help you are receiving. There is no rule that you have to accomplish everything in life alone.
Community is a concept that I think was lost completely during the 80s and 90s. When Hilary said “It takes a village to raise a child” and people nodded someone should have slapped them. We need to be able to know these common sense things and not have them feed to us by politicians, we should be getting them from our own family or support structure. Our society should not wait until their kids get to college to get their “world view” and learn about diversity, community and other people. We need to recapture our sense of community.
I had a very interesting conversation with Melinda’s husband that left me with many thoughts, one of them that I wish we would have had more time to chat. We discussed how agricultural communities needed one another throughout the year and self reliance was not part of the deal. You needed your neighbors during harvest season. The true kicker though is that community is more significant than just someone to help with the heavy listing. Your health and quality of life are improved thanks your community.
I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell as an author to the point that I was even accused of joining a cult after reviewing Blink. On his book Outliers talks about the phenomenon of how a community made a group of people very healthy. I have also read an article about how having a true friend to have a beer with and discuss your problems with makes you happier than being rich. All of this is pretty irrelevant if you don’t know how or when to ask for help.
Relay on those around you, share your thoughts and gain perspective. I believe blogs and online interaction are changing the word by creating new virtual communities that provide not just a sense of belonging but a group of people that care. I am super excited that my friend Dan is having a child this week, maybe even as soon as later on today! and thankful that he is one of the many people that are part of my community and extended family. Don’t wait until your problems or worries become to big, share them with those around you. It is one of the keys to happiness.