There has been plenty of research about the value of engaging with a community of like-minded individuals focused on a common area of interest or learning. These communities that focus on developing a skill or common interest are called “communities of practice.”
In these communities (whether digital, real-world or hybrid), people seek the company of others to learn, train, and share experiences together. The benefits are profound, especially when compared to going it alone. Being part of one or more communities of practice brings about accelerated learning and comprehension, mentorship, teaching opportunities, and emotional and psychological support. Here are some of the reasons why you should be part of a community of practice.
Learn faster and more effectively
People tend to learn faster and retain information longer when they engage with others. This is because connecting with others makes learning multi-dimensional. Since you’re learning from so many different sources – from peers, yourself, and mentors – you’re making new connections that you couldn’t possibly make by learning in a vacuum.
Connect more deeply to the environment
Many communities of practice also include engagement with the outside world, which is important for us to maintain balance and equanimity. Practicing an environmentally immersive skill means that your mind will be stimulated in new and unique ways. Examples include going to a park to do Tai Chi, or surfing in the ocean. Changing your environment helps you make new connections and think outside the box.
Strengthen emotional bonds
There is also a positive emotional component to communities of practice. When you isolate yourself, anxiety and depression increase. The more time you spend alone, consuming social media and watching the news, the more anxiety grows. If you feel stuck in a rut, this may be the reason why. A community of practice can help you break free with the help of social nourishment that is crucial for overall mental health.
Experience less negativity
Communities of practice police negative attitudes and will encourage you to build and maintain a positive mindset and attitude. Committing to be around positive people and to forge an abundant, inclusive, and supportive mindset will change your entire outlook on life.
Improve your health
Engaging in at least one community of practice is valuable not just for your mental health, but your physical health, too. When you cultivate a more positive mindset and attitude, more stable moods, and less loneliness, the difference will soon show up in your body. You’ll experience better sleep, more energy and motivation to exercise, lowered blood pressure, and more just by interacting consistently with a positive group of learners. If one of your COPs is focused on an integrated training practice such as a martial art, even better.
There is no time like the present
If you’re not part of a community of practice, you should strongly consider finding one in an area you want to learn about or are already engaged in. Communities of practice are everywhere if you look around, and there’s something out there for everyone.
FromCrossFit, Yoga, Meditation, and Chi Gong to book clubs, computer programming, and cooking groups, the possibilities are endless. Consider it an investment in your health and well-being and overall development on your path to wholeness. Evaluate any isolating pastimes that are draining your energy, and think about where you might benefit from learning and participating in the real world with real people.