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Would you like to be part of creating a happier society? Do you care about the happiness of others around you? If so please join us, add your pledge and take action - at home, at school, at work or in your community. Together we can create a better, happier future.

I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me

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Action 25

Get to know your neighbours better

Getting to know the people who live nearby helps create a sense of belonging and shared identity in our local area. It also helps to strengthen connections and trust in our wider communities and contributes to a happier neighbourhood for everyone.

Why do it?

Our lives are often so busy we don't get to connect with the people who live close to us. This is especially true in big cities, where everyone comes and goes at different times and new neighbours move in and out.

Yet research by the Young Foundation [1] and others has found that that wellbeing is higher amongst people who have regular contact with their neighbours and that knowing people in our local area, even if it is just to say hello can have a big impact how secure and happy we feel about where we live.

Where to start

Sometimes it's obvious what we can do and other times it's not. We don't have to make big gestures - small things can make a difference too. It might take a bit of confidence but it gets easier. Here are some ideas of ways to connect:

  • If you regularly pass someone in your street start by smiling and saying hello. Find an opportunity to introduce yourself. Tell them a little about you and what you enjoy about the area - then ask them what they like too. You could even invite them over for a drink or chat.
  • If someone new moves in close by then make them feel welcome. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself and offer to help with any questions about the local area. For example you could offer advice on when bins are collected, where the bus leaves from, local facilities etc.
  • If you're new to an area, be sure to go round and introduce yourself to your neighbours. Tell them what brought you to the area and find out a bit about them and their lives.
  • Look out for ways you can help your neighbours and don't be afraid to ask if you need support too. Giving support and receiving it from others improves our happiness and well-being
  • Look out for opportunities to connect with people in your Local Community - for example a local community group, residents association, volunteer opportunity, exercise/activity class, book group etc. Try checking out local websites or keeping an eye on local notice boards etc.
References

[1] Bacon,N., Brophy, M., Nguni, N., Mulgan, G., & Shandro, A. (2010). The State Of Happiness: Can Public Policy Shape People's Wellbeing and Resilience? London: Young Foundation

Resources

POSTER #2: RELATING

Connect with people

Relating 200

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Together we're stronger

Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental decline as we get older.

Not having close personal ties has been shown to pose significant risks for our health.

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Happiness is contagious

Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.

Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.