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Week 21: Know your neighbors

Now that we have looked at how we can improve on our closest relationships (that of our friends and family), it is time to look at how we can expand our networks and relationships. What better place to start than with your neighbors? We live next to to all of these people, and yet we don’t know them. Sure, you may recognize the people that live on your street, may even smile as you walk by them, but do you know their names? Know where they grew up? What they do for a living? If you didn’t answer yes to all three of these questions, it is time to do something about it!

Here are five ways to help you connect with your neighbors and build a stronger community:

  1. See them moving in? Offer to help! You don’t have to help them all day long, but when it comes to moving furniture up or down stairs, having someone else would be a huge help to them. You never know when you may need a favor yourself.
  2. Be old fashion! Welcome them by bringing them a freshly baked pie or cookies. Now you will be unforgettable to them!
  3. Extend your hand to them and give them your email and phone number (if you feel comfortable with that). Maybe they are new to the city and could use some advice on good places to eat or they could use your help feeding their cats some day or just to keep an eye on their house while they are out of town. By you lending help to them first, you will have started a good trusting relationship.
  4. Start a block party if you don’t already have one. They are a great (and a less creepy way) of getting to know everyone. Set a date. Leave invitations on everyone’s door and have everyone contribute their favorite dish. You’ll be surprised by the number of people that come out of hiding. You could also turn this into a block watch group by collecting everyone’s email addresses to send quick notices to everyone. It is a great way to keep each other safe.
  5. As you get to know some of your neighbors, invite them over to your place for dinner or some drinks. You’ll be able to get to know them a lot better.

Happy socializing!

Week 20: Send some love!

In the age of texting, email and online messengers, we have severely decreased the amount of really personal communications. Time we spend talking to one another in person or over the phone has decreased. We send emails instead of letters and tend to send a quick text message instead of calling. While technology has helped us in so many ways (for example, being able to communicate faster) we have lost a lot of the personal touch.

This week, it is time to bring that personal touch back.

One thing technology has done is to make old ways of communication feel that much more special. When you get a hand written letter or a present full of little surprises, you know that person really was thinking of you. They took the time to think about what to write or to fill the box with and then went down to the post office to send it to you. Yes, it would have been 10 times easier and 20 times faster to just send an email, but emails are not nearly as fun. This week, send someone you love a little present, card or flowers for no reason other than to say hi, letting them know you are thinking about them and that you care. It is easy and pretty fun for you to put together, and even more special for the person who receives your surprise.

The picture above is a little gift I received in the mail a couple weeks ago from my best friend that lives far away. To you it may just look like a mug, but it is from my favorite breakfast place about an hour from where she lives in Chicago that we ate at last time I visited her. This means she went all that way back to the restaurant to get this for me and then sent it to me. She is so thoughtful. I use it every day at work and it makes me very happy.

What will you send?

Week 19: Host a dinner

Nothing is more important then spending time with the people you care about and that care about you. This week, invite some friends and family over to your place and make them a home cooked dinner. Set your phones to the sidelines and have meaningful conversations. Catch-up. Learn what is new in their lives and share your support. This will bring you closer together and let the people you invite to have around your table know how much you care and how important they are to you.

Also, as Mother’s Day is this week (Sunday, May 13th), invite your mom over for a meal cooked with love. You don’t need to find new material items for her, just spending time with you will mean more to her than anything you could buy her.

Happy cooking!

Week 18: Call a friend.

In an effort to foster our close relationships, it is important to act.

There is the saying: “it’s the thought that counts,” but that only can go so far. If you only keep thinking about talking to your friends or family, but don’t actually do it, you haven’t really achieved anything. So, this week, pickup the phone! Call your best friend that lives in Chicago or New York. Call your mom that lives in Ohio. Call your grandparents that live in Florida. Call your Aunt and Uncle that live in Germany. Even if you are not a big phone person, it’s the thought that you would take the time out of your day to call and talk to them, that really counts.

Make the effort. Catch up. Listen. Let them know you care.

Week 17: Tell someone you love them.

In the next four weeks, we are going to focus on our friends and family. The people around us that give us the support we need. The people we choose to build our lives around.

“If you love someone tell them because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken.” – Pamela Daranjo

We often think it goes without saying how we feel about the people we include in our lives, but you may be surprised how easy it is for someone to forget or second guess. So, this week I challenge you to tell the people you love, that you do indeed love them. That you appreciate them and that you are happy to have them in your life. Your friends and family are those you have the closest relationship with, so remind them that they are important to you. If nothing else, it will make them feel happy.

Go on. Share the love.

Week 16: Attitudes

This week we will examine the attitude of empathy.

How you are, (your attitude, your emotions, your energy) are constantly affecting others. I know we tend to put our heads down and only worry about what is going on in our own bubbles, but whether we like it or not, our bubbles are constantly bumping into and changing other peoples bubbles (paints a good picture, eh?). When you are grumpy or rude, not only will you be less likely to get what you want, but you will also be giving your negative attitude to the people around you, potentially making their day worse.

It seems like a lot of pressure to always be on our best behaviour in an effort to make sure others are happy, but it is be worth it. Not only will you positively affect those who are lucky enough to cross your path, but you will also be happier yourself everyday.

Here are a few ways to make sure you are exuding you best attitude, happy emotions and positive energy:

  • Smile! Something so simple, but if you are feeling down and smile 5 big smiles, soon you will start to feel better. Also, smiles are contagious, so spread your rays of sunshine!
  • Practice patience. If you start to become angry or frustrated (e.g.: trying to work with someone on the phone or at a help desk), give yourself a second, take a deep breath, and come at the situation with a more positive approach. You may be surprised as you might be able to get what you want! Also, realize that who you are working with is not the cause of your problem. They are people, too, and are just trying to do their jobs. So give them the benefit of the doubt!
  • Pass out compliments like candy at a parade. Doing something for someone else and knowing you made someone else feel great will do wonders to how you feel.
  • Look at the bright side. Not everything will go the way you want it to, but the best you can do is find the best in everything.
  • Think positively. And positive things will come.

Now, no one is perfect and everyone is entitled to a bad day every now and again. Just make sure your bad day doesn’t make someone else have a bad day, too. You have the power to turn any day around!

Week 15: Another reason to not swear.

Week 15 is about about the awareness of empathy. Be aware of your littlest actions as they will have an effect on someone else.

There are two things I don’t understand about swear words. The first: how swear words are actually created. When you breakdown the words, they are just a random collection of letters that have become a symbol, a stand in for a bad meaning. The second: why we even deem a word to have so much of a negative meaning.

This is something my step mom had me start thinking about. When you swear at something, you are essentially giving what you are swearing at negative energy. And yes, I understand this might sound more on the crazy side of life, but swearing at someone can’t be good. It can’t do good things for that person or thing. So, I just say, don’t do it. When you are driving and someone cuts you off, don’t call them an a**hole. Or say f*** you to them. Just let it go. You may be in a bad mood and you may not like that they aren’t paying attention while driving, but don’t make their day worse by giving them bad energy. Instead, take a breath, think something positive for that person and move on.

Now, you will be helping someone else as well as yourself have a more positive day.