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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 July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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