It turns out that belonging is a greater predictor of life-expectancy, well-being, happiness, and fulfillment than heart health, poverty, smoking, or obesity.
We can all affect the environments in which we live through our actions, because of the contagiousness of our behaviour.
Due to our nature as community-seeking beings, we were wired to seek out belonging through our connections to others. The mirror neurons in our bodies are designed to help us react and mimic the behaviours of those around us so that we will belong more easily.
In an attempt to improve their organization in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana-based Oschner Health System tried an out-of-the-box experiment. In his best-selling book “Before Happiness,” author Shawn Achor writes about the hospital’s decision to try to “raise levels of happiness first.” Oschner Health looked outside the usual medical literature and found a secret ingredient used by Ritz-Carlton hotels.
The 10/5 way “turns out to be the perfect example of how to transform an organization through positive inception. The 10/5 way involves just a few simple behavioral rules that all staff are trained to follow. If a guest walks by a Ritz employee within ten feet, the employee should make eye contact and smile. If that guest walks by within five feet, the employee should say, ‘Hello.'”
Despite initial skepticism, this deceptively simple technique “completely transformed the shared reality at the hospital. Not only did this improve patients’ satisfaction with care, it improved outcomes for the hospital,” Achor explained. He urges his readers to “try implementing the 10/5 way in your office or household.”
Just try it out. Look at someone in the eyes and give them a big smile. Chances are, they’ll smile right back at you. Our neuro-receptors release oxytocin (the love/belonging hormone) when someone smiles at us and when we smile. Smiling, because of our mirror neurons, has the power to change our brain chemistry. When we witness someone smiling or laughing, our brain responds as though we were laughing and smiling. So, just being around happy, joyous people can change the way we feel.
How can you contribute to your workplace, learning space, or community in such a way that you ignite a culture of belonging? What action can you take to help someone feel seen, heard, and valued, today?
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