This is the second of a two-part article series. Part 1 was about how individual rituals improve performance. Part 2 is about how practicing group rituals with communities that bring you joy will help you lead a long, healthy life.

Loneliness is hard at the best of times. During the pandemic, it has taken on a new meaning for people who endured it in larger cities with the many lockdowns, social distancing, and lack of touch.

In her 2017 book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, British writer, Olivia Laing, describes the overwhelming loneliness she felt living in highrises apartments after moving to the Lower East Side in New York.

The city reveals itself as a set of cells, a hundred thousand windows, some darkened and some flooded with green or white or golden light. Inside, strangers swim to and fro, attending to the business of their private hours. You can see them, but you can‘t reach them.

The 3 ingredients of friends

If the average person has 16 friends, you'd want to know who your best friends are. Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, says real friends have 3 essential ingredients:

1 Long-lasting. Which friends have been a stable and reliable presence in your life?

2 Positive. Which friends make you feel regularly good?

3 Helpful and cooperative. Which friends have been there for you and supported you (and vice versa)?

Denworth believes people mistakenly view friends as nice to have. In other words, they are pleasant and lovely when they're around. From a health perspective, Denwoth convincingly argues that:

"Friends are a matter of life and death."

Fandom fosters long-lasting friendships in your community

Participating in fandom is one of the best ways to find your community and where you belong. Today, there are fandoms of TV shows, movies, books, music, bands, sports, people, pop culture, games, and countless others. Everyone who belongs to a community has their own unique fan origin story, that connects and attracts them to like-minded fans.

Robert Walker, President of the Joseph Campbell Foundation was asked by Star Trek’s William Shatner, in the documentary film, Get A Life, why fans flock to conventions for a weekend and dress up in costumes posing as their favorite characters. Shatner, always thought fans showed up for him and other film crew.

According to Walker, fans dress up and attend conventions each year as part of an annual group ritual to celebrate their fandom with each other. Every time friends meet at a convention, their fandom and friendship grow a little deeper. This experience of acting out their fandom year after year helps close friends better understand their world a little more each time.

"Human beings are meaning-making machines. We are hard-wired for narrative. We struggle to make sense of our experience by casting it in stories. ..The shows [like Star Trek], that really endure and that capture this kind of rabid fandom speak to the human experience.

The act of gathering at fan conventions or other events not surprisingly often results in people becoming couples getting married and having children. Of course, parents bring their kids into the fandom and often in full costume as soon early as possible.

Community is here to stay

Many scholars have argued that we are losing community. Statistics show people are less involved informal community organizations. Community is here to stay. It's changing as people discover more super niche groups on the Internet and at in-person festivals, conventions, and other gatherings. People come alive when they get the chance to live their passions and interests with like-minded people. Group rituals strengthen communities and help reduce social anxiety and loneliness. Lifelong friendships really are worth fighting for, especially when the science shows you'll grow healthier, happier, and older together.

To read a longer 4000-word article I wrote, that is titled, "To live a long, healthy life, practice group rituals with communities that bring you joy", click here

Thank you,


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