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10 Creative Ways To Make Your Neighborhood A More Lovely Place This New Year

10 Creative Ways To Make Your Neighborhood A More Lovely Place This New Year

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t know our neighbors. In a culture that is so digitally connected, more basic, everyday connections (like with physical neighbors) have become less of a priority. But caring for and taking pride in your neighborhood will make living there a much lovelier experience. Here are some ways that you can make your neighborhood a lovelier place to be in 2016.

1. Know your neighbors

It sounds simple. Getting to know your neighbors is so foundational, yet so easy to push to the back burner of life’s constant demands. With far-reaching social networks and the ability to communicate easily and quickly with friends and family from different neighborhoods, then what’s the hurry? But getting to know your neighbors will create a sense of community that goes beyond sharing a street. It will make a big difference if you are able to greet your neighbors on the sidewalk by name and ask them about their specific job or hobby.

2. Serve your neighborhood in all seasons

There will always be a need for sidewalks to be swept, hedges to be trimmed, and lawns to be mowed. There was a woman in a Chicago neighborhood who decided to take the day off work and shovel the entire block to make parking spaces available during a snow storm. She blessed her neighborhood and said that, “the look of awe on people’s faces was rewarding.”

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Serve your neighborhood and not only will your neighbors feel blessed, but you will feel blessed by the shock and gratitude that people in the twenty-first century feel when they see displays of selflessness.

3. Start a neighborhood tradition

Growing up, my neighborhood always had a Halloween parade where all the kids could show off their costumes, eat hot dogs, and begin trick-or-treating all together. It was such a fun time to meet other kids and it turned a holiday that individual families celebrated into something that created unity within our larger community. Start a Spring Garage Sale day, or a fourth of July block party. Beginning a tradition that people can look forward to and plan every year will make people feel more invested in your area.

4. Breed some healthy competition

There are two things that bring people together the most — a common enemy and some healthy competition. Begin a low stakes competition for the best kept lawn or the most festive holiday decorations. Host the final vote at your house and provide wine and cookies. People will devote their time and energy to winning, while simultaneously boosting the curb appeal of your neighborhood.

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5. Start a Block Watch

Speaking of common enemies, coordinating an effort to keep your neighborhood safe will benefit everyone in the area. Look up various ways to run a neighborhood watch and decide what is best for your community. Volunteer to be the point person in coordinating meetings or watch shifts. A safe neighborhood is a happy neighborhood.

6. Celebrate the kids in the community

Odds are that there are some children in your community. It might be easy to brush off children as simple de facto members of a community, but children are really the lifeblood of a neighborhood. They are the ones spending the most time outside playing. They probably have the most connections with their neighbors and they probably know the neighborhood better than most adult members do. Plan a back-to-school party or a giant birthday party for all the kids in the neighborhood. Make the littlest members of your community feel loved and seen.

7. Develop community spaces

Start a community garden or coordinate a more intentional play space for children in a cul-de-sac or court. Fostering the creation of spaces that members of the community have a vested interest in will create pride and connection in your neighborhood. It will also provide more opportunities for members of the neighborhood to run into each other and get to know one another.

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8. Focus on communication

It is easy to become isolated from your neighbors without a clear method of communication. If your neighbors are comfortable with it, compile a list of names, addresses, and numbers that can be emailed to the whole block. Or start a Facebook group where members of the community can interact, post photos, and make announcements about upcoming neighborhood events. Whatever way you choose, make sure all members of the community are included. Excluding certain neighbors will only drive wedges between your neighbors and make your neighborhood a more hostile place to live.

9. Start a “Care Watch” Committee

Similar to a Block Watch, this group of people will respond where there is a tragedy or a time when a member of the community is in need. If someone experiences a loss or has a child, the Care Watch Committee organizes a meal train to deliver meals to the family for a few weeks. Also, if someone is injured, the Care Watch Committee could organize members of the community to help out with yard work or simple everyday tasks. Having this safety net built into your neighborhood will make members feel safer and more cared for in their home.

10. Do unto others as you would have done unto you

The Golden Rule is a cliché for a reason — it works. If you want your neighborhood to be a much lovelier place to live this New Year, then begin treating the people around you how you would want to be treated. Help people with their groceries. Pick up trash in the street. Send Birthday cards. Cook people dinner. Be a servant to the people around you and your neighborhood will be transformed by selflessness and love.

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Featured photo credit: Loren Kerns via flickr.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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