Because humans are
social animals, we have a deep need to belong.
Whether it is in an ethnic group, a religious organization, a particular
political party, a fitness club, a gang, a preferred customer club, a social
cause, or any other possible group or organization. It doesn’t really matter what the group is as
long as it keeps us from feeling like we are alone, or worse, outsiders. And, usually belonging to just one group isn’t
enough, and before long, the group identity becomes our sole identity.
The irony is that
in order to “belong” and be a member of a particular grouping of people, we
have to isolate and separate ourselves from other people.
Because, at the end
of the day, that is the purpose of any grouping of individuals - no matter how
altruistic their motives, ideals and actions - to separate themselves from
others in some way, to show how different they are from the mainstream, and to
give its members a feeling that they are more special than non-members.
As a society, we
need to have cooperation between people, a pooling and sharing of resources, to
enable us to accomplish more than we could possibly accomplish on our own. It is not possible to thrive as an isolated
But, at the extreme
end, a group’s good can get overshadowed by the need to prove that its members
are better than others, or that it knows the only right way to accomplish
something. Usually what results is a
splintering of the group into smaller groups, each vying for new members, which
in turn leads to more people being excluded, which leads to more people craving
to belong somehow. And when people feel
desperate to join a particular group, they aren’t always thinking straight, and
are very susceptible to pressure from peers, or group leaders.
While it would be
so easy to say that we just need to get rid of the extreme groups, that won’t
solve the problem. Instead, we need to
remind those around us what belonging really means. After all...“Breathing is nature's way of
saying we belong here. Otherwise we wouldn't be doing it!” - Ofosu Jones-Quartly
I don’t mean the
square footage of your house, or your workplace/office, or if you even have
multiple residences. I don’t mean how
many belonging you have and the entire square footage they occupy. And, I definitely don’t mean the size of your
physical shape - whether you are tall or short, bigger or smaller around.
Space, in the
context that I am using it, has both a macro and micro element to it.
On the macro level,
how large an area does your influence ripple out? Are you known outside of your immediate
community, or do you tend to keep to yourself?
How large is your circle of friends and acquaintances? You don’t have to be “famous” to have lots of
influence, just kind.
Now, the micro
level of space is a bit different, and, of the two levels, is the most
important. It is also the easiest to
measure at any given moment, and boils down to just one simple observation - how
full and deep was your last breath?
There are only
three types of “fuel” our body needs: air, water, and food, and the most vital
one is air, yet, because it enters our bodies predominately without conscious
thought, we tend to ignore it. The vast
majority of us barely fill 20% of our lungs with each breath! No wonder so many of us - myself included
many days - feel tired and weak all the time, and when we feel threatened in
any way, we tend to shrink inward - like a turtle into its shell - to protect
Yet the only way to
really protect ourselves is to relax, inhale fully and deeply, and open our
chests. By filling more energetic “space”
with each inhale we are able to sense - with our hearts - more of the world
around us, and filling more space with full, deep inhalations is also the
secret to thriving and living a healthy life.
The size of our
houses, and the number of belongings we own, matters not if we don’t fully
inhabit the energetic “space” that we have been given to embody with each
breath we take.