How To invest in your community


1. Express admiration, appreciation, and affection for someone you care about. Does your roommate always do the dishes without complaint? Does your best friend or significant other listen to your boring work problems with compassion? Make a point to communicate your admiration and gratitude directly the next time you see this person. It can be as simple as sending a cheesy e-card or doing a favor without being asked to do so.

2. Make time for social interactions. Show interest in other people and engage in activities that foster and nurture friendships. With your regular friends, you may want to make a point to schedule a weekly dinner, a daily e-mail or a monthly excursion. If you want to form new friendships, you may want to make a point to volunteer in worthy causes, attend more public events or join local clubs that suit your interests. No matter what strategy you choose, the key is to make time for these things lest solitude becomes an unbreakable habit.

3. Consciously celebrate or encourage a recent successful accomplishment done by a loved one or friend. Did your friend get a promotion? Did your old high school classmate buy a fabulous dream house? Though it may natural to feel envious, make an effort to be happy for the person. Anytime your friends or loved ones accomplish or succeed in something, be happy for them and show encouragement. This should extend to other people as well--such as co-workers, acquaintances and other peers. When you become a person who cheers other people on, you are more likely to create and foster friendships than someone who becomes envious and feels easily threatened by other people's accomplishments.

4. Communicate your inner life more. This does not mean you should disclose everything about yourself down to the nitty-gritty details. Simply, if you find that you are a guarded person who keeps people at an arm's distance, make an effort to communicate your inner life more to your loved ones and friends. Honest self-disclosure creates more self-disclosure and also creates a sense of intimacy between two people. Sharing your inner life may mean a number of things: such as sharing your childhood dream, admitting past mistakes, and disclosing certain insecurities. It is a way of showing your true self, as opposed to the public face you put on when you are around people you don't know very well. Also, show attention and compassion when other people are communicating their private inner life to you in return.

Post an intent on how you plan on investing in social connections starting today. (Example: "My intent is to write a hand-written letter to a friend I haven't spoken to in a long time and send it out tomorrow.")