#LoveThyNeighbour – what does that even mean? Do I need to become besties with the guy next door, who plays his music too loud late at night and whose dog keeps escaping into my garden to do its business? I knew it wasn’t cats ….
The words Love thy neighbour date back to the Bible but you don’t have to be religious for the words to have meaning. It just means that it doesn’t hurt to show a little kindness and consideration for those around us, whether at home, work, on a bus or in the street. Small gestures go a long way.
Start With A Smile
It’s easy to do and doesn’t cost a penny. Smiling, even when you don’t feel like it can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy and before you’ve even realised it, your mood is lifted.
Next time you find yourself at the back of a very long queue, take a moment to really look at the people in it. How many of them look happy? How many of them are staring into the screen of a smartphone, oblivious to what’s going on around them?
I was once one of these people. As I was mindlessly scrolling through my texts I was snapped out of my hypnotic state by the person next to me who smiled and said “What would we do without smartphones eh?” I looked up at the long line of technology zombies with their miserable expressions and laughed. We engaged in conversation, a few others in the queue soon chipped in and next thing we knew we were approaching the front of the line, phones in pockets and smiles all round, bidding each other farewell. It was all thanks to that one queue neighbour who dared to smile at a stranger. I wonder how many more smiling faces we would encounter each day if we were all a little more like that stranger in the queue …
Your smile doesn’t even have to be seen to make an impact. Next time you answer the phone at work, answer it with a smile on your face. You’ll be amazed at how much friendlier and approachable you sound, which will put the caller at ease, leaving them with a much more positive impression of both yourself and the company you represent.
Bake A Cake
We all have to put food on the table somehow, and that means spending time away from our family while we work. The people you see day in day out are more than just desk neighbours, they are your second family whether you like it or not. The hours go by much faster when the workplace is a fun, happy and supportive place to be.
Next time there is an excited pregnancy announcement, an unsuccessful attempt at keeping a milestone birthday a secret or someone gets hitched, why not bake a cake to celebrate? Who doesn’t love a good natter over a slice of cake?
You could even have an office bake off. Once a month have a few people bring in a home baked masterpiece and conduct a tasting session to decide whose is the most delicious. Not only is it a great excuse to stuff your face, it’s a fantastic way to discover and share new recipes and bond over baking disasters.
Show Some Appreciation
Has a colleague ever taken on extra work so you can leave early to watch the kids’ football match or attend the school concert? After dashing through the doors shouting ‘cheers mate, I owe you one’ did you witness a first ever goal or nearly burst with pride when your child was star of the show? It was all thanks that work colleague’s kindness that you were able to be there at all.
A handwritten Thankyou note is a lovely way to show your appreciation.
Showing appreciation whether verbally or otherwise is a great motivator and lets people know they are genuinely valued. If you were never thanked for anything you did, how long would it take before you stopped bothering?
Did your teen offer to wash the dishes? (Wow, really?) Thank them! Is your mum looking after the kids during half term? Thank her, she’s amazing. Did a shop assistant go out of their way to help you find everything you need? Thank them, or even better, write a letter to the store manager to say how pleased you were with the level of customer service you received.
It’s never too much trouble to say Thankyou.
Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes
– Erm, guys, can I have my heels back? That’s not what I meant …
It’s easy to watch other people struggling and think I’m glad that’s not me. But what if it were you? It would be nice if someone offered to help wouldn’t it?
Is someone looking frazzled because the printer is chewing up paper and making noises that no one has ever heard before? Don’t back away with the intention of returning when the problem is fixed. See if you can help.
Has someone’s carrier bag split, spilling its entire contents across the carpark? Rather than stepping over that bunch of bananas and hurrying along, why not help pick it all up?
Off shopping? You could pop across the road to see if your elderly neighbour needs anything while you’re there.
There are a million and one ways to be kind and considerate. If everyone made a conscious effort to do just one good deed a day the world would be a much happier place, don’t you think?