A community, as we are using the term, is a group of people with common characteristics or interests who interact on an ongoing basis. Such communities come in many forms, and most people belong to several of them, some formal, some informal. This Web site, for instance, is an online community. A church is another type of community to which you may belong, as is a workplace, a school, a community center, or a retirement community.

Belonging to and participating in such groups offers a vital chance to express yourself and relate to others in productive and mutually rewarding ways. As you plan, share, discuss, debate, and make collective decisions, you reach beyond yourself to learn, grow, and do with others.

But unfortunately not all communities are so fulfilling. Some may have values and practices that conflict with what you value and believe. Some may be tightly controlled by a small group who put their own interests before the group as a whole. If you find yourself in such a community, and you can't see how to change things, you might consider limiting your involvement, even withdrawing so as to spend your efforts in more worthwhile pursuits.

Try to think more consciously about the various communities to which you belong and to consider the ways in which you could participate in them more fully. Which communities are most important and satisfying to you? How could you get more deeply involved? What talents or abilities could you share in this group? If you aren't sure, ask another person in this group how you could get more involved.


Make a list of every formal or informal community you belong to and rate those communities in terms of their importance to you on a scale of 1-10, with ten being highest. Then take the two or three communities that score highest and write a short paragraph about each telling how you might be able to participate more fully.