Today I’m writing about how to enhance your wellbeing through looking outwards, with nine tried and tested techniques for relating to your community.
- Ask for advice. An example of this might be something as simple as approaching a neighbour who is a keen gardener for information about which plants grow most easily in your particular neighbourhood, or asking a well-groomed colleague about their hairdresser. Asking for such things builds personal links with others.
- Find excuses to do small favours. You might offer to keep an eye on a neighbour’s house while they are away, and let them come back to a bottle of milk in the fridge and a loaf of bread in the cupboard. Or donate surplus home grown flowers and vegetables to those around you. Maybe babysit for someone has been cooped up with young children, so they can get out of the house. Favours do not always have to be reciprocal – they are worth doing even if they only add to the sum total of human kindness.
- Try throwing your house open especially if you are a busy working parent, to other people in the same situation from the local area now and then, for a glass of wine and mutual conversation. Alternatively , organise a group meal out together. This way you can build and reinforce a sense of solidarity and community.
- Set up a food group so you can order supplies together and get a wholesale discount, or even share an allotment.
- Pot up cuttings from your garden or windowbox, and offer them to anyone who is developing a new flowerbed or remodelling their own patch. Even a carefully nurtured shoot from a spider plant can be a love offering.
- Help maintain the pavements in bad weather by clearing your section, as well as those of any adjacent neighbours too frail to help. In summer, offer to trim back hedges or branches that might be bothering your neighbour.
- Give and receive lifts. For practical reasons, it’s often impossible to organise regular shared lifts to work, despite the relentless nagging we experience at the hand of large organisations obsessed by carbon reduction targets, invariably generated by those fortunate enough to be able to pootle up to work on a bicycle without a care in the world. However it is often useful to give and receive lifts to social events, for example, and this can be an easier goal.
- Share your cooking. Once you have a decent mealtime system going, it is comparatively easy to cook a little extra and make space at your table for a visitor, who might be a new person to the area, an local student, a recently arrived colleague from your workplace, or a new friend from your children’s school. Home cooking and socialising is often appreciated more than you might realise in these situations.
- Share your children. They don’t belong to us, they are just passing through. Help them bring joy to the lives of friends and older relatives, through thoughtful letters and visits, which can be short but regular. If your relatives don’t appreciate your children (and sadly some in our society seem to have lost the knack of interacting with them, and become unduly judgemental instead), then consider finding places where your children are appreciated and enjoyed, and spend some time there as well.
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