Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in the New Year


be-kind-everyone-you-meet-fighting-hard-battle-whoisplatoThe old year is put to bed, and the New Year is still waking up and getting started. As you rise up with it, consider some ways to make this year a little happier for you and those around you. You can make a difference in the lives of the people you come into contact with with only a small amount of effort. Here are five ways you can be a good neighbor this year. Can you suggest more?

1) Seek First to Understand: By now we’ve all seen the Internet memes out there with Plato’s quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard (or harder) battle.” Next time you encounter someone who seems like he or she is about to bite your head off, consider the person might be having a really bad day, or is going through a painful time. If it’s someone in a store or on the road, let them pass and silently wish them well. If it’s a friend, co-worker or family member, save the tart response and ask a few questions. Hey, are you having a bad day? What’s up?

2) Schedule in Chance Conversations: Years ago my neighbors told me it always looked like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I winced a little, because I knew that meant they didn’t think they could approach me, since I appeared to be too busy. I was too busy because I kept packing my schedule too tightly. Now I space out my meetings and appointments and pad in some time for unexpected meetings with neighbors and other people that come across my path.

3) Stretch Your Budget: How much money did you give away to charity last year? If you’re like most Americans, you gave somewhere around 3 percent of your income. Challenge yourself to give just a little more this year, maybe by 1 or 2 percent. Give to causes you really care about, and do a little research to make sure your contributions are going to reputable organizations.

4) Decrease Screen Time: The term “digital detox” is getting a lot more play these days, probably because we’re all coming to the conclusion that more time staring at a glowing screen is not necessarily better. It’s easy to get sucked into scanning the latest social media posts, watch “one more episode” of a great TV show, or rack up points or collect badges on a favorite game. Unfortunately, like junk food, it’s not that healthy for us in the long run, and it’s definitely does not promote healthy relationships or social interactions.

5) Show Your (Civic) Spirit: Get educated about issues in your town or city by spending a little time reading the local newspaper or news website, attending a City Council meeting, or joining a neighborhood network like When controversial issues come up, study the issue and consider what is the best outcome for the entire community in the long run, especially if those on the margins are involved, like the very young, the very old, or those in need. In other words, don’t be a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). We all don’t like change, but sometimes change is the best thing for the health of our community, no matter how it impacts us as individuals.