Community and Social Connections

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson (philosopher, poet)

This area of life is about you and your relationships with other people. It defines how much time you spend on social life and various community activities. How you define community is relational. It can include a circle of friends, relationships with neighbours, members of a church or religious group, taking part in activities of an organisation or a social group, spending time with friends, etc. – anything that is not family or work. Of course, if you spend your free time with your colleagues after work, they may be part of your community, too.

Friends and good relationships with them contribute to good emotional and physical health, personal growth, good quality rest, strong self-worth, and other positive things in your life. People on their deathbeds are a lot more likely to regret broken ties with friends than unfinished work tasks.

As professional and/or family responsibilities pop up, time spent on social life is generally reduced. Keeping it active often requires additional efforts to stay in touch with friends and community members, initiate meetings, and organise joint activities while also finding the time to accept invitations to meet or attend events from others. Social life creates particularly favourable opportunities to combine various spheres of life – leisure, sport, recreation, and family time. After having children, it may be easier to organise activities or trips with friends who also have children. For example, go camping with several friends’ families by the lake (family time + social life + community building + active leisure/sport). Or start exercising or take up a new hobby with your friends. Opportunities are endless!

How to find more time?

In this case, finding time means actively searching for and devoting it to community and social connections. Think about how you can merge this area of life with others. Invite your family and friends to activities together! This will help you strengthen the community and spend some quality time together.

Where do I start?

Plan the time for social life. Don’t expect your social life to flourish effortlessly. Actively plan and reserve time for it in advance on your calendar. Otherwise, other activities will come up and will likely take up the time of your social life.

If you’re an active person, it might feel like you don’t have time, and you’ll meet your friends once you free up from work. A day like this may never come if you don’t make an effort to plan something deliberately.

Foster in-person communication. Talking to people in person can lift your mood and fill you with energy like nothing else. Not every person and not every conversation automatically puts you in a better mood, but we all know at least one person who refills us with positive energy and helps us deal with concerns whenever we talk on the phone or meet in person. Try to meet or chat on the phone (it must be a voice conversation rather than a written one) at least once a week with people you find inspiring, motivating, and full of positive energy, those who affect you positively and give you energy and insight.

Include friends in important life events and decisions. Consult, talk things through, share ideas and insights, celebrate achievements, victories, and meaningful moments in your life together – share your life and build a community of loving and supportive people. This is an immense power in your life that can support you in your happy moments and help you go through difficult stages of your life.

Strengthen the community by doing what you like. Think about the activities you want to start or develop, but you never found the time (or were not looking for it) to do so and combine it with your contribution to community-building (even if it is just among your friends and family). Do you like to read? Start your own book club or join an existing one. Would you like to move more? Invite a group of friends on monthly trips to nature (and ask each person to bring one other person). Like cooking? Invite your loved ones to explore a cuisine of a different culture once every two months. The idea is simple: invite other people to do something that you like to do, but you’re not doing now. Social commitment to other people will motivate you and strengthen the sense of community (or maybe even create it).

Join community initiatives. If you don’t want to commit to something that would take a lot of your time every week or month, you might be able to join one-time or less frequent, e.g., annual, initiatives. For example, a spring clean-up with neighbours in your area, the “Darom” (Eng. “Let’s Do It”, campaign, a Christmas wreath-making workshop, baking a cake for Pie Day on 6 November, etc.

Volunteer. In Lithuania, many organisations host volunteers. It’s a great way to contribute to building a better world and boost your social life.

All that is left for you to do is choose where you want to help. Here are some organizations that are always looking for extra hands:

  • Raudonasis kryžius (Eng. “Red Cross”). Operates in very different areas (aid to elderly people, refugees, and migrants, people in emergency situations, affected by military conflicts and natural disasters).
  • Caritas. Operates in different areas (aid to those affected by war, elderly, people with disabilities, work with families and children, convicts, organising events).
  • Maisto bankas (Eng. “Food Bank”)
  • Emotional support organisations (calling new volunteers every year):
    “Pagalbos moterims linija”(Eng. “Women’s Help Line”)
    “Jaunimo linija” (Eng. the “Youth Line”)
    “Vaikų linija” (Eng. the “Child Line”)
    “Sidabrinė linija” (Eng. “The Silver Line”)

More volunteering ideas in Lithuania can be found here.

Get to know local initiatives as well. For example, in your community, your children’s school, university, the church you visit or ask friends, acquaintances, etc. The world is full of opportunities, all you have to do is commit your time and will to it.

Voluntary activities that feel meaningful and are valuable for the community enrich everyone involved with positive emotions and energy. In some countries, volunteering, and other activities for the benefit of the community are very widespread. In the US, for example, residents spend an average of 52 hours a year on various voluntary activities. According to Eurostat, 19% of Europeans are involved in volunteering (16.3% in Lithuania). In Norway, the proportion of volunteers is the highest (48%), and in Romania – the lowest (3.2%).



Together: Why Social Connection Holds the Key to Better Health, Higher Performance, and Greater Happiness (Vivek H. Murthy, 2020). A book about the positive impact of social connections on our lives and tips on creating, strengthening, and maintaining social bonds.

Year of Yes (Shonda Rhimes, 2016). The genre of this book is a bit different – it is an invitation to follow the author as she performs a year-long experiment of saying “yes” to life: “yes” to invitations to events and various activities, public speaking, participating in conferences, and all the other things she had never said “yes” to before. Shonda Rhimes’ book inspires to open your time and attention to the community and shows that it is the person saying “yes” to everything who benefits from it the most.

The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People (Rachel Wilkerson Miller, 2020). Being friends with other people and maintaining those friendships for life is difficult. The author shows how to give your full attention to the in-person connection with other people in the age of technology without forgetting to start with yourself and your friendship with yourself.