: Introduce yourself to someone in your neighborhood.
Do you know your next door neighbors? If not, that’s a great place to start this week’s challenge. Getting to know the people who live around you is the perfect way to start to build a strong community. By getting to know your neighbors, you are creating a support network of people who work together to protect and serve the needs of everyone in the group. And you never know – you might make a new friend!
: Listen carefully to someone without trying to solve his/her problem.
When someone comes to you with a problem or complaint, offer them a listening ear. To practice active listen you should 1) look into the speaker’s eyes, 2) tell her what you hear in your own words–as much as you can, put yourself in her shoes, 3) clarify by asking questions to ensure you understand the person fully, the whole picture, the points being made, and the meaning to the person, and 4) ask the speaker if she wants advice. If she accepts your offer for advice, then begin to reflect on the advice you would like to give her.
When you are thinking about what you are going to say to a person before he is finished speaking, you are going to miss significant information about his story. More importantly, people don’t always want advice. Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen.
: Let someone else go first.
Whether it’s the line at the grocery store or merging on the freeway, take a few minutes out of your day to allow someone else to go first. Being mindful of the needs of those around you and practicing selfless acts of kindness are both behaviors that define an everyday hero.
: Write a letting telling someone how much you appreciate him/her.
In challenge #4 we discussed the values and benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. This week’s challenge is another way to implement a practice of gratitude into your life.
: Have a conversation with someone you don’t usually talk to.
As humans, we tend to unconsciously group people into categories. This can cause us to treat certain people preferentially or with prejudice, without us ever realizing it. Any group of people that we feel that we belong to is considered an ingroup, and they are usually made up of people we feel united with due to a common origin, belief, goal, culture, or situation. People that we do not think of ourselves as being a part of are referred to as outgroups. The people whom we categorize into our outgroups are usually different from us in some fairly obvious (to us) way, such as appearance, culture, or religion. They also tend to be people that we do not know as well. Therefore, a great away to begin to break down outgroup prejudice is by having a conversation with someone you don’t usually interact with.
: Share your deepest values with someone.
Identify two or three values that are personally important to you. Share them with a friend and tell them why those values matter to you. It’s easy for anxiety and ambiguity to cloud your judgment in challenging situations, but reaffirming your values can offer clarity and direction when making decisions.
: Help someone feel included in a group setting.
Research initiated by psychologist, Henri Tajfel, in the 1970’s has shown us that all it takes for us to begin to carve out our social worlds into “us” and “them” is the random flip of a coin.