Belonging Is a Basic Need
Community is something we spend a lot of time thinking about because it’s such an integral part of who we are at OHI. People who come to stay at OHI are seeking a healthier, more holistic lifestyle, and they find that … but they also find something more: a wonderful sense of community. They no longer feel alone because they have bonded with others in a way that transcends the time they spend here.
The OHI community is the one place where people truly work to love their neighbors as themselves—just as God calls us to do. Community is so important to humans that it is actually in our DNA. In his famous hierarchy of human needs, Abraham Maslow put “Belonging” at the third level alongside “Love.” Needs associated with this level of the hierarchy include acceptance, feeling supported and understood, and having relationships and friendships. When these needs aren’t being met, we can feel rejected, neglected, and lonely.
Belonging Is a Primal Need
For our ancestors, being part of a community was integral to survival—the difference between living and dying. And all these centuries later, that need to belong really hasn’t changed much. Even though we’re not threatened by saber-toothed tigers anymore, our mental health is wholly dependent on belonging.
In today’s busy society it’s easy to miss opportunities to connect with our fellow humans. Then, if or when we happen to run into some difficulty, like suffering a loss or finding ourselves stressed or fearful, we lack the kind of support we need. Suffering alone seems to make any problem worse—and if it continues, it can even be harmful to our health.
According to a 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, loneliness has been associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. People who are socially isolated and lonely have a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 32 percent increased risk of stroke. And social isolation has also been associated with a 50 percent higher risk of developing dementia.
The bottom line is, human beings need each other. Albert Schweitzer put it aptly when he said: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
The First Step in Belonging: Making Genuine Connections
According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, when you are engaged in a conversation with someone, and the two of you are genuinely interested in the topic and each other, you will point your navels at each other. Observe people talking in public sometime, and you’ll see that this is true. People will be facing each other, even making eye contact, but their hips will be turned away from each other. Neither of those people is really interested in the other person or what they are saying.
Conversely, here at OHI we see many people leaning into each other and having genuine conversations. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Belonging begins with acceptance: accepting others, and being accepted by others. In a Psychology Today article titled “Create a Sense of Belonging,” psychologist Karyn Hall writes: “One of the best ways to communicate acceptance is through validation. Validation builds a sense of belonging and strengthens relationships.”
Belonging to the OHI Community: How It Begins
When our guests share their thoughts about the belonging process, they describe it as a learning journey of coming into wellness and wholeness … a path that is a collective effort but also has individualized objectives.
Guests have also mentioned that as part of the OHI community, they found themselves sharing things that were more intimate than anything they’d ever shared before. People even say, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this.” It’s an emotional outlet that enables people to feel and share their emotions freely.
Everyone is exuding this positive energy, and this release of energy helps you transform. You feel like you never want leave because there is a sense of safety while at OHI. And the people you meet; many will become lifelong friends. You build friendships that last for years because you let your guard down and felt free to share your most intimate concerns. The next time you feel stressed, you might want to pick up the phone and call one of your OHI friends.
Belonging to OHI’s Community Helps You Persist and Succeed
Renowned psychologist Albert Ellis once said, “The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” Persistence is one of OHI’s 5 Ps to Optimum Health, and having the love and support of belonging to a community makes it easier to stay the course and persist until you reach your goal.
Each week when people attend our program, there is a great balance in the community as some people return for a second, third, or fourth week. These returning guests help the newer up-and-comers by sharing helpful tips and how-to’s that enable them to quickly assimilate into the OHI culture and community. Veteran guests understand—physically and emotionally—what the first-weekers are experiencing and, by offering support, can help them achieve their goals and their sense of belonging even faster.
When you have a sense of belonging, you want to give back or pay it forward. It’s not only lending a helping hand but also a sharing of wealth. So, as you enjoy these crisp autumn days, and refine your sense of community and belonging, we ask that you please remember the OHI Scholarship Fund when planning your year-end donations.
Share the Love, Share the Feeling, Share the Gift of Healing
Please consider contributing to the OHI Scholarship Fund to help those in need experience the benefits of the OHI program. Over the course of our 44 years, OHI has provided scholarships to individuals who could not afford to otherwise attend. In most years, we have been able to fulfill all requests for assistance through the generosity of our community. OHI invites you to join with us in celebrating our healing mission with a tax-deductible gift. Your contribution will help to make our community stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.
To all who have donated to the OHI Scholarship Fund – Thank you for your generosity!
During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.