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Happy Neighbors are Contagious

Can happy neighbors make you happier?

A recent study published in the BMJ suggests that happiness is a collective, network phenomenon. The researchers found, for example, that if you are happy the probability that your next-door neighbors are happy increases by 34%. This group happiness effect can spread through your social sphere up to three degrees of separation, with effects decreasing with geographical and network separation. Click here to learn more (via Science of Us).

Sharing Books to Turn Neighbors into Friends

In neighborhoods around the world, boxes full of donated books are prompting neighbors to share books and bond over their favorite literature and stories. Little Free Libraries are miniature community-book lending structures that enable free access to books. Founder Todd Bol sees the libraries as “the water cooler of literacy,” offering free books and friendly conversation. Little Free Libraries are about learning how to get outside, make friends within your neighborhood, and become part of your community by eschewing the comforts of technology and focusing on physical books. As one user noted, ”When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents sat on the porch and they read the newspaper while we played on the sidewalk and all the neighbors knew each other. Then we got an air conditioner and we went in the house and shut the doors and windows and we turned on the TV.” Now, participants in the program are instead starting multi-generational book clubs and developing new friendships with their neighbors. Click here for the full story.

Sharing Books to Turn Neighbors into Friends

In neighborhoods around the world, boxes full of donated books are prompting neighbors to share books and bond over their favorite literature and stories. Little Free Libraries are miniature community-book lending structures that enable free access to books. Founder Todd Bol sees the libraries as “the water cooler of literacy,” offering free books and friendly conversation. Little Free Libraries are about learning how to get outside, make friends within your neighborhood, and become part of your community by eschewing the comforts of technology and focusing on physical books. As one user noted, ”When I was a kid, my parents and grandparents sat on the porch and they read the newspaper while we played on the sidewalk and all the neighbors knew each other. Then we got an air conditioner and we went in the house and shut the doors and windows and we turned on the TV.” Now, participants in the program are instead starting multi-generational book clubs and developing new friendships with their neighbors. Click here for the full story.

Neighbors Share Time to Share Hope

In Rockford, Illinois, neighbors just finished their eighth consecutive year of joining forces to improve the community’s schools. This year, the Rockford Sharefest Schools Project picked the Roosevelt Community Education Center, site of the school district’s alternative high school program where students can have a second chance at achieving a high school education. Thousands of volunteers spent eight days revitalizing the building, as well as cleaning up the downtown’s business district. Volunteers see Sharefest as “a great opportunity for a bunch of people to come together to just love on the community,” and hope that students will be more likely to reach their education goals in a building that says “People care about you.”

Click here to read the full story.

Neighbors Share Time to Share Hope

In Rockford, Illinois, neighbors just finished their eighth consecutive year of joining forces to improve the community’s schools. This year, the Rockford Sharefest Schools Project picked the Roosevelt Community Education Center, site of the school district’s alternative high school program where students can have a second chance at achieving a high school education. Thousands of volunteers spent eight days revitalizing the building, as well as cleaning up the downtown’s business district. Volunteers see Sharefest as “a great opportunity for a bunch of people to come together to just love on the community,” and hope that students will be more likely to reach their education goals in a building that says “People care about you.” Click here to read the full story.

Can You Find Happiness By Helping Your Neighbors?

According to a University of California professor, the happiest people are those who are often the first to offer helping hands to others. University of California, Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky studies what actually makes people happy, and the answers aren’t necessarily what you might expect. In her book The How of Happiness, Lyubomirsky identifies 8 things that the happiest people have in common:

1. They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships. 2. They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have. 3. They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby. 4. They practice optimism when imagining their futures. 5. They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment. 6. They make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit. 7. They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values). 8. Last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge. Her research suggests that people who practice such happiness-boosting activities regularly, and under the right conditions, become happier people. Click here to read more. (via Barking up the Wrong Tree)

Can You Find Happiness By Helping Your Neighbors?

According to a University of California professor, the happiest people are those who are often the first to offer helping hands to others. University of California, Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky studies what actually makes people happy, and the answers aren’t necessarily what you might expect. In her book The How of Happiness, Lyubomirsky identifies 8 things that the happiest people have in common:

1.      They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships. 2.      They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have. 3.    They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby. 4.      They practice optimism when imagining their futures. 5.      They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment. 6.      They make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit. 7.      They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values). 8.      Last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge. Her research suggests that people who practice such happiness-boosting activities regularly, and under the right conditions, become happier people. Click here to read more. (via Barking up the Wrong Tree)

76-year-old Neighbor Inspires Obese Teen to Lose Weight

When Charles D’Angelo was a teenager, he was morbidly obese, bullied, and afraid for his future. His life changed for the better on the day he befriended his 76-year-old neighbor. His neighbor inspired him to change his life and led by example – she worked out at the gym every day, took walks in the park, and generally led a healthy life. She taught Charles to change his mind set in order to attain the promising future awaiting him. With his neighbor’s help, Charles made a radical shift in his philosophy, attitude, and habits. In two years, he lost 160 pounds, and transformed his life. He is now a weight-loss coach and author, passing his neighbor’s inspiration forward to inspire others daily.

Click here to read the full story.

76-year-old Neighbor Inspires Obese Teen to Lose Weight

When Charles D’Angelo was a teenager, he was morbidly obese, bullied, and afraid for his future. His life changed for the better on the day he befriended his 76-year-old neighbor. His neighbor inspired him to change his life and led by example – she worked out at the gym every day, took walks in the park, and generally led a healthy life. She taught Charles to change his mind set in order to attain the promising future awaiting him. With his neighbor’s help, Charles made a radical shift in his philosophy, attitude, and habits. In two years, he lost 160 pounds, and transformed his life. He is now a weight-loss coach and author, passing his neighbor’s inspiration forward to inspire others daily. Click here to read the full story.

Be Inspired By Your Noisy Neighbors

Ever find yourself not knowing quite what to say to your noisy neighbor? An article in The New Yorker points to a recently discovered cache of Marcel Proust’s letters to his noisy upstairs neighbor. The letters show how seemingly mundane annoyances can be a catalyst for artistic expression. The letters are playful and witty. Proust complains of excess noise from upstairs by inquiring, “If your charming son, innocent of the noise that martyrizes me, is nearby, please give him my best wishes.” Along with a note requesting that hammering occur in the evening rather than the morning, for example, Proust sent a gift of four pheasants to soften the blow. And yet, despite such nagging, Proust’s comment on hearing of a death in his neighbor’s family speaks to how our neighbors sneak into our lives and our affections. He writes “And I’ve so fallen into the habit, without knowing you, of sympathizing with your sorrows and joys, through the partition where I feel you invisible and present, that the news of the death of Monsieur your brother has deeply distressed me.” The next time you are annoyed by a neighbor’s noise, consider seeing the noise as an inspiration and write a charming letter – just like Proust! Click here to read the full story.

Our Mission: Inspiring Our Neighbors

We provide rental housing for over 1,200 people, and our staff believes that housing is the most fundamental of needs. Almost all of our staff lives in our communities, and each morning we are there as residents embark on their day. We expect our residents to pass on to others the good service, good deeds, and acts of kindness we provide every day. Our staff works hard to inspire our residents so that they can inspire others. Like a pebble dropped into a pond, the staff’s deeds spread across our properties, to our neighbors, down our blocks, and into the entire region.