Here’s an alternative way to see the value in having social groups:
We feel a responsibility to live by our values and behave properly in front of our friends, because they’ll call us out if we start acting selfishly or out of alignment with how they expect us to behave.
By being in contact and in the presence of our friends, we are effectively outsourcing the problem of our sanity. In essence, it isn’t that we are relying purely on ourselves to remain mentally healthy, we are actually unknowingly being reminded how to think, act and speak by those around us.
We can use this force to help us to become the best people we can possibly become, and as a result be a good influence on our own friends in return.
Contrast this with not having a solid social structure in your life. It’s much easier to come off the rails if no-one is there to see it happen. With good habits slowly unravelling and bad habits overgrowing like weeds, we begin to slip in life. Waking up early with a solid work and exercise routine metamorphoses into waking up on the couch at 3 A.M. covered in Cheetos dust with Netflix asking whether we’re still there. And because nobody can see that, there’s nobody to help pull us up, to keep us accountable.
If you’re a person lacking that social structure, make it an aim to start connecting it together again – despite the crippling anxiety it can so often induce. If you’re worried that one of your friends or family lacks a reliable social structure, take the responsibility to check in on them to see how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to. It might just help more than you know.