THE QUESTION OF BELONGING

There is a conversation in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’[1] in which a brilliant mathematician John Nash is having a conversation with his colleague Charles Herman. Nash is brilliant but suffers with paranoid schizophrenia and is driven to excel in the field of mathematics.


JOHN NASH: I need to look through to the governing dynamics, find a truly original idea. That’s the only way I’ll ever distinguish myself. It’s the only way I’ll ever . . .

CHARLES HERMAN: Matter?

JOHN NASH: Yes[2]


We are deeply embedded with a desire to matter. Mattering is defined as the perception that, to some degree and in any of a variety of ways, we are a significant part of the world around us.[3]

Mattering helps us identify who we are and where we fit in. If we matter to others, we feel valued. On the other hand, to be ignored and have no one who shares with you can have a devastating effect on our wellbeing.

The desire for significance is so great that people will act out in good or bad ways to be significant. One will give their time to serve in a soup kitchen while another buys a gun. One will pursue the dream of winning a gold medal while another will steal gold medals in search of notoriety. Some will get pregnant as a loving way to grow a family and another teenage girl may get pregnant to finally matter to someone, especially this baby.

What will you do to achieve a sense of belonging?





[2] Gregory C. Elliott, Suzanne Kao & Ann-Marie Grant, Mattering: Empirical Validation of a Social-Psychological Concept, ©2004 Psychology Press, pp.340-341
[3] Gregory C. Elliott, Suzanne Kao & Ann-Marie Grant, Mattering: Empirical Validation of a Social-Psychological Concept, ©2004 Psychology Press, pp.339-340

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