One may be at one place for years, and then decide to move on without even pang of loss. So how did something that did not even warrant a fond reminiscence hold one for so long?
There are many things that make a person bond with an external entity—be it a place, organization, or another person. We find ourselves feeling a kinship because of a common culture or background. We associate easily with people who are on the same wavelength of thought and growth, who are intellectually compatible.
But the strongest bond anyone can feel is an indefinable feeling, that I will call a “sense of belonging.” No other kind of linkage or association has the same compelling strength. Not love, not money, not convenience. We automatically identify with things that we believe we belong to. Whether it is parks, memories, people, books or institutions—they become an integral part of our selves. Nothing else can measure up to the strength of this bond, because it connects with our intrinsic nature.
The only thing that splits that firm connection is the loss of that indefinable feeling of belonging. One may work at a company for the money and the perks, but then all one needs to leave is a better opportunity, or even sometimes just a change of scene. And then there are those who work far below potential because one finds somewhere/someone there that is more aligned to their moral compass. It may be the people they see everyday, or it may be what the work ethic of the organization, or it may be the elemental business of the organization. What makes us commit is that we see there what we have in ourselves too.
I think a sense of belonging is also crucial in determining the quality of human relationships. A marriage works only when belonging applies both ways. This belonging is defined by feeling belonged not that one feels the other belongs to them. And that is the crux of the power of belonging. If you want your spouse to feel a sense of belonging in the relationship you have to give of yourself. That “compromise” everyone talks about? That is basically empowering your partner to be herself or himself, to be able to bring to the relationship something meaningful to him/her. The ‘compromise’ is actually the acceptance in your own life of something that may not be an integral part of your internal compass. We all know that the more core values shared in a relationship, the smoother it makes life for those involved. I believe it is because that engenders a feeling of belonging more easily. It is a connection between core psyches.
And that is the connection a successful organization makes the employees feel . When one can decorate a cubicle, it is a small value, but when your principles match (as in a common charity), it is a considerable one. Belonging would exhibit in one feeling that one is an extension of what one belongs to, or that that is an extension of you. When you start using we instead of them, you belong.
I think the strongest display of the sense of belonging is our dwelling. One can feel belonging at home more intensely if there are things in there that reflect one’s likes and values. We put into our homes things that make us comfortable, things that say what we want them to portray. It is what envelops us with calmness and contentment we need in our place of repose. And that is precisely why we can come from the most gorgeous resorts back to our houses and still say “Home Sweet Home.” It is misconstrued that home is important to us because it belongs to us. It is important because we belong there.