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STRONGER TOGETHER: Why we want to matter, and why mattering is important

Last updated: 02/10/2023

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses mattering.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

We all want to matter — mattering is a fundamental human desire that can significantly influence our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Mattering isn't just a personal pursuit; it's a community endeavour that can uplift individuals, schools, workplaces, and our community.

At its core, mattering is the feeling that we are a significant part of the world around us. It's the belief that we are noticed, important, and needed right now. When we make others feel this way, we not only improve their lives but also strengthen the bonds that hold our communities together.

Research has shown that experiencing mattering has a multitude of benefits. It boosts self-esteem, fostering confidence in one's worth. It even increases serotonin levels, often referred to as the "confidence molecule," which can positively influence our overall mood and reduce anxiety.

Moreover, mattering provides us with a sense of purpose, triggering the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin – the "happiness trifecta." These chemicals not only control our mood but also motivate us to contribute to our communities.

So, how can we create experiences of mattering? Studies have identified three key components: attention, importance, and dependence. Attention means realising that others notice us and care about what's happening in our lives. Importance is feeling uniquely significant and valued, while dependence involves knowing that someone relies on us.

Individually, we can make a difference by ensuring that the people around us regularly feel noticed, important, and needed. In schools, it means emphasising to every student that their presence completes the classroom. In workplaces, it's about recognising that each person and their work are essential for the whole. In our communities, we must work towards rebuilding systems that affirm the dignity and value of every individual.

Mattering is not a one-size-fits-all concept; it's deeply personal. It's about fostering connections, offering kindness, and acknowledging the unique contributions of each person in our lives. It is about taking notice, being prepared to look outside our own internal world and recognising the value being created by someone else. It may seem insignificant at the time, yet the impact that we can have on others – it can be truly powerful. Creating households, neighbourhoods, communities, workplaces, schools, and even a nation where every single person felt like they mattered to someone else.

Simple, effective, lifechanging. Each of us playing a role in the change that we would like to see.

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