Sure, there are some folks who couldn’t pick their neighbors out of a police lineup. I know, you can’t believe the police put you in the back seat when you clearly called “Shotgun.” But clearly, there are also some who go to great lengths to avoid superficial chit-chat with those who live nearby. And sometimes, for good reason.

While some only use neighbors for package retrieval or settle for a friendly wave here and there, there are others who never once miss the chance to greet you, and with a huge smile. People talk a great deal about leaving legacies. But truly, what is your footprint other than the simple statements and actions you make in your daily life? Some of us truly value every “Hello.”

We may know someone who always stops to let other vehicles merge into her lane of traffic. Is that you? Or are you the one who says: “You’ll have to hit every cone on the highway before I let you merge in front of me, because you saw that sign two miles ago just like I did.” C’mon, admit it. Then again, they say: Life is like parking. You never know how long you’ll be waiting until someone opens up a spot for you.

Of course, when you have a generous neighbor, you will always have an extra pantry or toolbox to dip into. Instead of that last-minute panic dash to the supermarket for bathroom tissue, or flour, you can borrow a cup of that missing ingredient or that much-needed tool. Then, again, some men have become tools of their tools. Of course, you can count on them to collect your mail or keep your packages away from those porch pirates when you finally take your much-needed vacation. Do you return the favor?

If you’re really lucky, your neighbor may bring you cakes, cookies, pies, or treats for the holidays. That’s right. I’m gonna have your cake – and eat it, too. Back in the day before key codes, you would give your neighbor a spare key to your house just in case you locked yourself out. Well, you know what they say: If you ever get locked out of your house, talk to your lock calmly. Because communication is the key.

But assuredly, when you have friendly, trustworthy, and helpful acquaintances on your block, you probably sleep better at night, too. They may just be the epitome of the Scriptural good neighbor who loves others and treats them as they would treat themselves.

Conversely, many things can affect your quality of life. Suppose you have a next-door neighbor who allows his dog to bark incessantly. Maybe you fought over disputed property lines, or they do not even remember to take out their trash. You may even feel offended over what you perceive as a lack of neighborly outreach.

Whether we know it or not, those who live near and around us affect our quality of life. Do you know the names of your neighbors? Sometimes we get hit with a heavy snowfall, and magically our snow gets shoveled. Has anyone helped you when your car literally got snowed under? Do they consider you and avoid keeping you awake at certain times of the day or night?

You don’t need an excuse to do something kind for the person or family next door.

If you feel like your surroundings are negative or you often feel ill-will toward your neighbor, it can inevitably lead to anxiety and even health issues. Please don’t let one bad apple make you think that everybody’s going bananas.

Be friendly, please. Interacting socially gives your brain a boost, as well. Keeping to yourself does nothing to improve your mental clarity. If you’re running an errand, offer to pick up her groceries or make a stop at the post office for him. Better yet, present them with a pizza. I mean what person doesn’t like pizza? A “weirdough.”

Are you tuned in to the parking etiquette on your block? Well, the only thing worse than parallel parking is witnesses. Do you block driveways or take what some may hope to be a reserved spot at times? Do you feel like buying some of your neighbors a “Honk if your horn is broken” bumper sticker? Sheesh. When you are having construction or work done on your house, do you politely inform your next-door neighbor? Are you cautious and selective with tenants, if you have any?

The relationships you form flourish on give-and-take. You can always offer that referral to a maintenance man, which would no doubt be appreciated. While to some, it may be tempting to stay in your little bubble, and not interact with others, remember that you can always be friendly without invading someone’s space.

Text him if he left his car door open or lights on. Don’t drop in but do check on them if they are in need. There is nothing quite like a sense of community, sweet friends.

A good neighbor increases the value of your property. Then, again, a better one is the one who doesn’t put a password on his Wi-Fi.

We are so blessed that some of our neighbors are worth more than a million cups of sugar. Always remember: To have a good neighbor, try being a good one. 

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at