Get to know your neighbors
Believe us: only a small fraction of your neighbors are psychopaths. Most of them are actually kind, lovely people. Find out who’s living just centimeters away from you. Invite them over for a meal or drink. Start sharing WiFi. Cook together. There are also certain — even selfish — advantages: you might find someone to take care of your plants while you’re on vacation, look after your kids while you go out dancing or let in workmen while your at the office.
energy: double check your apartment, and see if you can find ways to use electricity more efficiently.
space: park your car considerately, leaving space for others.
food: buy only what you really need. Give leftovers from your fridge to friends before you leave on a trip. Cook more, and bring your own food to the office — it tastes better and will help you save money.
time online: a real life is out there waiting for you while you’re complaining about facebook’s latest data use policies.
Chat with someone over 60
The wisdom of the elderly gets lost in our cities. The digital, speedy and non-committal is seductive, but reconnecting with your favorite teacher from high school or finding a chess partner at a retirement home in your neighborhood can carry some sustainable meaning. Offer to carry groceries for the elderly lady next door. Or easier yet: when was the last time you spoke to your grandmother, parents or godparents? Reconnect.
Be polite and become a role model
Wait at red traffic lights (even if there are no kids around).
Don’t litter. Put all of your garbage, maybe even your cigarette butts, in the trash.
Offer your seat on the bus or subway to a pregnant women, an elderly person or families.
Say “good morning” and “hello” to your neighbors, colleagues, even strangers, in the elevator or in the stairwell.
Open doors for others.
Learn about the history of your street
Do you know who built your building and when? Who were the first renters? For what was your neighborhood known 100 years ago? Go to a town archive, ask at the neighborhood antique store or visit a local museum. Create a small exhibition with your research results on your street!
Tap into your inner child
Kids don’t know about schedules, prejudices or stress. They are open minded, happy and thirsty for knowledge — emulate their joyous ignorance and your adult burdens will feel much lighter: listen to street musicians, watch birds in the street, tell silly jokes, say hello to strangers, play, take your time, smile!
Support local businesses
Charming, small boutiques and independent shops keep our neighborhoods alive. Stop ordering books online. Great little book stores dot our streets. They can give you better recommendations than any faceless, online profile and can order any book for you within a day. Buy your bread at the small bakery on the corner. Have a coffee at that cute, Italian place instead of gulping down what chains churn out.
Enjoy your surroundings
Of course you’re busy and important and always on the run, but do you really need to talk on your mobile all the time, everywhere? Pay attention to those around you. Is your phone conversation souring a romantic moment? Is your music giving that tired mother a headache? Read a newspaper instead. Enjoy the wind in the trees outside the window. Disconnecting is the new trend, so leave your phone at home one day per week, letting only your core group know how to contact you.
Organize a community day on your street
After spring thaws your wintry lethargy, organize a community day on your street. Together with your neighbors, you can clean up the sidewalks, plant flowers in front of your buildings, watch your kids play together, and sell away your clutter at a garage sale. You can even finish off the day with a dinner together and a good glass of wine!
Stop complaining! Enjoy life!
Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are constantly complaining. Does it interest anyone? Does it change anything? Nope, not at all! Change the things you can. Think positively, smile, and be nicest to those who frustrate you most — it’s not just the things that happen to you, it’s how you look at them.