By Kimberly Mikesh

5 ways to be the best neighbor on your block


Whether your street is as calm as Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or full of Wisteria Lane drama, you can always be a better, nicer human. The trick is thinking of tiny ways to be warmer, friendlier, and more generous each and every day. Start with these simple tips.

Smile: The simplest act has the biggest potential payoff. Next time you’re running late and haven’t had your coffee yet, smile and greet your neighbor instead of rushing by without making eye contact. Smiling, even fake smiling, is scientifically proven to make you happier. And studies show that making social connections (even quick hellos count) improves your ability to fight colds and lowers your stress level.

Random acts of kindness: If there’s something better than being surrounded by caring neighbors, we’d like to know about it. When it snows, take the extra time to shovel your elderly neighbor out, too. Not only does doing good feel good, but what you give is what comes back. Karma, baby!

Feed their souls: In every culture in the world, food equals love. Bring a pot of soup over to the family knocked out by the flu. Bring dinner to someone in your neighborhood who just had a baby or is taking care of a sick friend or family member. They may not expect it and they’ll never forget it.

Make a (furry) friend: Sometimes leaving a beloved pet is the most stressful part of going away. Make it easy on a neighbor -- emotionally and financially -- by offering to care for their pet in their home. That way, their little buddy isn’t further traumatized by having to stay in a strange place. Bonus: spending time with pets (even borrowed ones) is proven to release oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and helps you relax.

Ask questions: People love to talk about themselves, so be the curious one. Getting to know the people who live close to you is good for lots of practical and important reasons, but it’s also great to make a new friend (gal pal, bro-ski, potential playdate).

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