We live in a world of “Me First”. This morning alone I think I had to use my horn three times just to let people know they were being real jerks for cutting me off.
And heading into the weekend, we’re tempted to make plans for ourselves: sleeping in, relaxing, perhaps indulging in a drink or two…
Since we’ve already determined that self-care is absolutely necessary in your life, there is definitely time to sit back and do something for yourself. Like we discussed: you’re no good to others if you don’t provide for your own needs regularly.
But now let’s challenge ourselves to get creative with all the other hours of leisure we have to spend. When was the last time you put yourself out there, possibly uncomfortably, in an attempt to do something for someone else without thinking about the benefits for yourself?
Does the idea of community service sound like a punishment to you? Do you cringe at thinking of stepping outside of your comfort zone, interacting with those in need for just a few moments? Are you afraid to stand for something, worried about what others might think?
My guess is that you don’t even know just how easy it can be to branch out and get involved in your community. It’s as simple as Googling on the internet, checking a social media account, or paying attention to the flyer-filled wall at your local coffee shop. But just in case you’ve still got an excuse, let me be more specific about the actual steps you could take to being a better neighbor.
Gather some friends and forfeit an afternoon of day drinking to instead find a soup kitchen, shelter, or community center to volunteer just two hours of your time.
How often do you rally the crew together and head out for a beer? Or do you and your significant other have a date night you could swap out for some community involvement? It’s so simple to take that already-built-in time and actually do something that makes a difference with it!
Join a local YMCA. Donate used items at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Habitat ReStores. Buy your groceries from co-ops and local farmer’s markets. Support local businesses.
There is an endless amount of ways to stop supporting large corporations and funnel your money into your local community. Supporting small business and farmer’s markets in which the owners will use this money to support their families and businesses will strengthen and many times revive communities. Donating to well-established organizations like the ones mentioned above will also circulate back to helping in the community without you having to do more than dropping off a bag of used clothes! The everyday actions that we will take, with our without thought, can directly impact how our community around us survives.
Be aware of the social justice climate circulating in your community, and join in to stand up for what you believe in.
2017 has brought rallies, marches and protests, along with a deeper understanding of what it can mean to stand for something. Go to the women’s march in your city. Write letters and call your representatives. Start attending town hall meetings! It’s so simple to just be awarein your community, and then pick and choose what you will dedicate your time towards accomplishing.
The most important thing to understand when getting involved in your community (and therefore being a better neighbor) is that no action is too small.
In fact, I challenge you to start small to avoid burning out! Take a Saturday morning and pick up the trash lying along the side of your road. Foster a dog for a few weeks until it finds a permanent home. Participate in a 5K and raise the money to run it for a local charity.
If you take on too much too quickly, it won’t last. And while any contribution into stepping outside of yourself and getting involved in your community is excellent, slow and steady wins this race.
And always remember, the key to being a good neighbor comes from the way you treat others. Get to know the members of your community, invest in relationships, understand the impact of your actions in everything you do, and try to be more intentional in your everyday decisions.
And what better time to start being a good neighbor, than right now?