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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Nov 14, 2022

With Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen, Stanford Professor and Author of the book, “Belonging”


One of our most fundamental human needs is feeling a connection with others to avoid feeling lonely and isolated. As social creatures, our need to bond and connect with others is an important part of our basic survival instinct. History shows that being a part of a group is not only important for our continued survival but accomplishing tasks is far easier with the aid of others. When we think of a group we tend to think of large organizations with many members, but in reality, a group can be as small as two people. When the group comes together, there’s an understanding that all the needs of the group will be protected and confidences maintained. We take comfort in knowing we belong and we’re valued.


Today we are speaking with Stanford University professor and author Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen. His new book, “Belonging,The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides” studies our fundamental desire to belong and how our perception of group membership can impact our sense of security along with our mental and emotional well-being.


What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why is the need to belong so fundamental to humans?
  • Has Dr. Cohen ever felt left out of a group?
  • Why “stigmas” are often what lead to excluding people.
  • What inspired Dr. Cohen to write the book Belonging?
  • Did Dr. Cohen become a professor due to his need to belong?
  • What are some tools to get over being too self-critical?
  • Why perception, mindset, and attitude can really shape experiences.
  • What role do media and social media play in how we view ourselves?
  • Why does anxiety seem to be on the rise?
  • What does being excluded do to an individual?
  • What is stereotyping?
  • Why is empathy so important yet challenging?


Today’s Takeaway:

From the time we are school-aged children and throughout our entire lives, whether we are at home, work, or within our communities, the need to feel seen and heard is critical to our emotional development and mental health. Belonging to a group combats feelings of isolation and loneliness. Therefore, the fear of being rejected or excluded from that group can be one of the most alarming and painful life experiences. Being accepted by a particular group not only validates us as individuals, but we also feel a sense of connection and security. Sometimes we will go to great lengths to stay part of a group even if the group culture is at odds with our personal beliefs. For example, think of all the stories of young, naive college freshmen that pledge a sorority or fraternity and put themselves in harm’s way with excessive and dangerous alcohol consumption. They do so simply because of their deep-rooted desire to be accepted by their peers. Just as we desire to be perceived as members of a particular group, we may be equally determined to keep others out of that group. Whether an “us vs. them” mindset stems from feeling threatened or a perception that resources are scarce, many problems in society come from our inability to see others as individuals. Instead, we ostracize an entire group and choose to align ourselves against them. Giving another person the opportunity to feel seen and heard is a gift. As we heard, it’s important to empathize and communicate in a way that invites cooperation. Instead of alienating others, we can give them the gift of acceptance by allowing them to feel included and by respecting them as individuals. Remember that every day is a gift. Be good to yourself and be good to those around you. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



  • “The need to belong is important for humans as a social species because we just can’t go at it alone.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Built into our DNA is a need to connect.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Together, collaborating in common purpose, we can change the world.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “The thing about belonging that’s very interesting is it’s so situational.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Your mental prism is your prison.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Perception is so, so powerful.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Our mindsets shape our experience.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “I believe that anxiety is often, as a lot of research has demonstrated, comes out of feeling disconnected, alone.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “One of the most nerve-wracking messages our central nervous system can send to the rest of our body is, ‘You are alone.’” — Dr. Cohen
  • “We are evolved to be together.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “When people feel, especially chronically lonely, it ratchets up the threat system.” — Dr. Cohen
  • “Yeah, empathy is a good thing but how you do it, the techniques, often matter a lot more than we think.” — Dr. Cohen


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Gardner White Furniture


Mentioned in This Episode:

Purchase Belonging by Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen

Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen’s Website