Do you know your neighbours? - GulfToday

Do you know your neighbours?


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose only. TNS

Saleha Irfan, Senior Sub-Editor/Reporter

You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your neighbours.

However, I have been blessed with the best of the best; the kind who would invite you in for a cup of tea and a chat if they see you in the hallway; the kind who would go through great lengths to make sure you have a home cooked meal on your table if you’re not feeling well; and the kind who would drop by with a bowl of your favourite dessert just because they know you how much you like it.

But with more and more people choosing the apartment life, it has become quite common to not know who lives next door to you.

It wasn’t always like this though. When I was a kid, I remember people dropping by, without prior notice, whether it was to just to check in or say hi. It didn’t matter if you lived in an apartment building or a villa, the neighbours were a tight-knit community, there for each other through thick and thin.

Life was simple and blissful.

Now, a 2018 AARP Foundation study explores this relationship between loneliness and social connections. According to the study, neighbours can impact your happiness and getting to know them can help reduce loneliness. While age and urbanicity are factors of loneliness, 61 per cent of adults aged 45 and older who have never spoken to a neighbour are lonely, compared with 33 per cent of those who have spoken to a neighbour.

“I think that people have different ideas, depending on what their experience has been about what neighbours are good for, what they’re bad for, and how much attention to pay to them,” said Julienne Derichs, a clinical professional counsellor. “One of the things that surrounds us all the time is our environment, so if you feel disconnected in your environment that does impact happiness. What we know about happiness is when people are connected with other people, their levels of happiness go up.”

Everyone knows that it’s important to connect with the neighbours but the pace of life nowadays makes it difficult. At times we might not always like to be around people but it’s important to have people around.

“Relationships lift us up, particularly in times of challenge and times of change, but somehow our economies have prioritised what’s efficient over what’s important and the spaces for people to interact face to face meaningfully; to spend time to pause, reflect, have conversations about their days — those spaces are the ones which are feeling squeezed,” Smith said.

If your hectic life doesn’t permit you to visit your neighbours often, don’t worry. At the most, a friendly smile, a nod or a simple hello when you see them outside or in the lift might be the stepping stone to connecting with them.

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