Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Gift of Neighbors

By Julie Rahm

Do you ever wish you did not have neighbors, or that the neighbors you have would move? Sometimes I look out into our backyard at the breathtaking view and think about how thankful I am for our home. Other times I look out to our side yard and see into the homes next door and think that I would like a home in the middle of 10 acres with plenty of privacy. The side-yard-view thought does not feel nearly as good as the backyard-view thought. The key to happiness is disciplining our thoughts so they bring good feelings. Metaphorical tool kit in hand, I began tuning up the side-yard-view thought.

First, my metaphorical level indicated that my mood was out of balance when I thought about our lack of privacy. I shined my metaphorical flashlight into the darkest corners of my mind to reveal what bothered me so much about privacy. Fear was the culprit. Fear of gossip, specifically. I plucked that fear out of my mind with my metaphorical pliers. Then, I hammered in better feeling thoughts by stacking the evidence of what is good about having neighbors.

The first thought I hammered in was how much I enjoy being outside with our dog, Tank, and watching him play with Eddy, the dog next door. Having a nice playmate for Tank so close by is a gift. And, I enjoy talking with our neighbors while the dogs play. They are lovely people. Before we both had dogs, our demanding schedules precluded us from getting together very often. Now we get fresh air and social time together, and Tank and Eddy get the dog time and exercise they need.

The next thought I hammered in was how nice it is to have nearby neighbors to call when I need help. Today, for instance, we had a chicken snake in our kitchen. John was out and I was home with Tank and Elvis Ann, our parrot. I knew the snake would not hurt me. And yet, I “chickened out” of trying to catch it. Our next door neighbors on both sides were away. So, I called Stan who lives three doors down. He came over right away, caught the snake in about 10 seconds, and was gone. If we had a home in the middle of 10 acres there is a good chance I would not even know our nearest neighbors. And, I would be left to my own devices when critters got in the house.

As I stacked the evidence of nearby neighbors being a gift, my desire for privacy diminished. Now I look at our side-yard-view as a blessing. Nearby homes mean we have nearby neighbors. And, we have the good fortune of having neighbors we like.

If neighbors are a negative in your life, get out your metaphorical tool kit and get to the source of why they trouble you. Hammer in better feeling thoughts about your neighbors by looking for evidence of what is good about them. Do they keep their yard tidy? Are they quiet? Talk to other people about their neighbors. Just like your problems, when you hear about other people’s neighbors you might be grateful for yours.

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