Life can get super busy these days that it seems like having neighbors as real-life friends is not as common as it used to be. We are always on social media and yet we perpetually feel like there is no time to connect with the people who live close to us. And in big cities, this is particularly true because everyone comes and goes without saying hi or even waving hello. Why do it, anyway?
It’s pretty simple, really. Knowing the people who live around you creates a sense of belonging and, ultimately, a shared identity. Getting along with your neighbors and actually building relationships with them can strengthen not just connections but also trust in your community. And next thing you know, you are contributing to a healthier and happier neighborhood for everyone.
If you are looking to cultivate a connected neighborhood, here are some simple tips to get you started.
Strike a conversation. Starting a conversation with someone you just met can make you feel awkward — all the more if you are an introvert. Don’t let uneasiness keep you from communicating with your neighbor. Look around and find a common ground. Are you both interested in home improvement projects? Ask about his latest outdoor entertainment project at home. Do you like the same music or food? Share playlists or exchanges recipes! You’ll be surprised at how fun and insightful your conversation can get.
Do random acts of kindness. Most people respond positively to acts of kindness. Bake and take cookies to your neighbors. Babysit for free. Check in on an elderly. It’s small gestures like these that can make life a little bit easier for your next-door friend. They may not be able to repay but inspiring kindness sure opens up a whole new world of what it means to care for others.
Host a party. Invite your neighbors to a casual gathering at your front lawn. Serve them some freshly baked snacks and lemonade while you all hang out and get to know each other better. Depending on your budget and schedule, you can invite your neighbors over for your son’s birthday party, your wedding anniversary or what have you. If you need tips on hosting a successful party at your home then here’s a pretty nifty infographic from HeatStrip USA.
Offer what you have. Got some old clothes or toys to donate? Offer them to your next-door neighbor’s kids first. Cooked more than what you need? Invite the entire family for dinner. Sharing is caring, and it is not hard to do. When you share what you have — and you share it selflessly, you change other people’s lives and yours for the better.
Express appreciation. Neighbors extend to trash disposal workers who diligently collect waste all-year round, mail carriers who drop off letters every day, and delivery people who bring you pizza when you are hungry. Wave and say thank you! And while most companies don’t allow service workers to accept gifts, you can certainly offer small tokens of appreciation like a gift card to your local coffee shop. Not only do small gestures like these create goodwill, they also teach children the value of generosity.
It’s important to feel comfortable where you live, and connecting and building relationships with your neighbors will only result in strong community bonds. When you feel good about who you are surrounded by, you live a happier life. And when you live a happier life, you help improve everyone else’s quality of life.