What kind of neighbor are you?

Do you know your neighbor? Do you? Do you know what’s going on in his world? Do you know the difficulties she faces? If they were in an emergency situation, could they come to you and ask you to watch their daughter for a couple of hours?

wilson_fencePerhaps you say hello when you walk your dogs in the morning.

Perhaps, when you meet across the mailboxes in the afternoon, you chat casually.

But do you know your neighbor?

I can’t say that I really do. As I get ready to leave this home I have lived in for three and a half years, I find myself convicted. I don’t know my neighbors–not really. We’re friendly. We say “hi” and “how are you,” but with the exception of one (and I’m so glad we became friends, Tianna!), the truth is, I’d be hard pressed to tell you their names.

Shame on me!

My whole life I have dreaded living what I have coined the “treadmill existence.” To me, this is the daily grind. We wake, we go to work, we come home, we sleep, we wake, we go to work . . . over and over again.

To avoid this, I thought I needed to do something exciting. I needed to live overseas and be a missionary. Or I needed to be a best selling author. Or I needed to find something other than this ordinary, soccer mom (or in my case football/gymnastics mom) existence.

Ironically, God seemed to determined to keep me in that soccer mom sort of existence–and if so, either he was okay with the treadmill existence–or (much more likely) I was missing something!

No, huge surprise here, but I now realize, I had it all wrong.

themostinterestingmanintheworld_1426The treadmill existence is not about the job we do or where we live. It’s not about a great list of accomplishments or a wall full of awards.  You don’t need to be the Dos Equis’ most interesting man alive to get off the treadmill.

It is about our mindset. It is about seeing the opportunity for the divine, for change, for influence in every moment.

Perhaps it’s a little easier for me to see this than most. Being a psychology professor, I see how the impact of what I teach has the possibility to change lives, and it transforms the way I look at those moments in the classroom. They are loaded with possibility, potential. What I say today has the potential of altering the course of a life (in a positive way, or possibly, even in a negative way–very humbling thought!)

But the truth is, every moment of our lives is filled with that same potential.

7089479-business-woman-rushingThe other day, I was cleaning up after my work out at the gym. I was in a hurry. I was running late for a conference call, and I needed to get ready to meet one of my friends for a night out. Just as with my neighbors, though I’m friendly with several people at the gym, I don’t really know anyone by name or well, so nothing should have gotten in the way of my mad dash for the door.

But there was this woman, a woman I had never seen before. And she sighed. Not just the “I’m tired” sigh. Not the, “this has been a really long week sigh.” No, this sigh was something different, and I couldn’t resist commenting on the weight of her sigh.

She responded that her workout had knocked her on her butt.

I made some comment about that being the sign of a good workout.

despairTo which she responded, “No, you don’t understand. It literally knocked me on my ass. I have MS. This is my therapy, and I can’t even do it.” And she sat down and started to cry.

I didn’t know this woman. If not for my inane comment about her sigh, I would have walked right on past, and never known the despair that was eating her up inside. I would have made my conference call, hung out with my friend, and this woman would have left with her burden of despair still firmly on her shoulders. Instead, I found myself with an opportunity of helping a fellow human being. It was time to get off the treadmill.

I didn’t know this woman, but I knew her pain. And I knew that I needed to stay and listen, and offer what comfort I could, conference call be damned!

That moment was one of possibility. It was an opportunity to be God’s hands’ extended. And I could easily have missed it.

How many times have I missed those moments, caught up in the hustle and bustle of the treadmill life, the relentless daily grind? How often, with my eyes focused at the task at hand, have I missed the divine, the chance to get off the treadmill, and to make a real difference in someone’s life?

Too often I fear.

Which of my neighbors has cried out to God for help? And I could have been part of the answer. Who has needed to know that they aren’t alone, but I’ve been too wrapped up in my own world to see?

I despised the treadmill existence, and yet I have had opportunity to get off that treadmill,  time and time again, but I have been too blind to see the opportunity.

In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg put it this way:

sonrise-burning-bushAnd Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” Everything turned on Moses’ being willing to turn aside–interrupt his daily routine to pay attention to the presence of God. He didn’t have to. He could have looked the other way, as many of us would. He would have just missed the exodus, the people of Israel, his calling, the reason for his existence. He would have missed knowing God. But he didn’t miss it. He stopped. He “turned aside.”

I don’t want to miss the reason for my existence. I don’t want to miss my calling because I can’t see what’s right in front of me.

I need to live my life in this way. I need to have my eyes open so that I see the burning bush moments, the moments when I get to be the arms, and the voice, of God.

I need to get off the treadmill.

And it starts with seeing.

Seeing our neighbors and their pain. Seeing our coworkers and their struggles. Seeing the needs of our community and stepping out of our daily grind enough to be the one to meet those needs.

Our society, according to a recent gallup poll, is one third Christian. Nine out of ten Americans say they pray everyday. And yet, we are notoriously bad about living with our heads in the sand, being too consumed with our own lives to see the struggles of those around us.

handsThis is what Jesus means by reaching the lost–and most of us are failing.

It is time for us to embrace our purpose. To see that each moment is heavy with possibility. To get our heads out of the sand, and to see.

Will you join me?

We don’t want to miss our burning bush–because that is what it’s all about.


37 thoughts on “What kind of neighbor are you?

  1. This is what it’s all about. To look outside ourselves and be more like Jesus. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us, we have to let God’s spirit use us.

  2. Hello professor, this is Riley Taylor from General Psychology CO4. I too do not have much of a relationship with any of my neighbors. Honestly, I make it a point to avoid most of my neighbors because they annoy me. I am only friendly with an elderly couple in the house to my left. The wife is a kind woman who will always smile and wave hello when she sees me, but her husband is a bit of a curmudgeon. He is a retired police officer who I have never seen smile. That is the most I know about them. I have no insight into their personal lives or what drives them. There is no reason for me to care about them, but when they needed help tearing down their fence to build a new one, I offered my help not because I expected them to pay me for the work, but because I knew that it would lift a huge burden off of their shoulders. I believe that no matter how well yo know someone, you must always take the opportunity to show them kindness.

  3. Hello professor Graham, this is Niyanta Marfatia from General Psychology C04. I can also completely relate to not having a relationship with my neighbors. I have lived in my home for nearly three years now and only have a “Hi/Hello/How are you?” relationship with all of my neighbors. I agree in the fact that sometimes we do need to just slow down and look around us, to give out a helping hand to the ones we see need it the most. I’ve never sat down to actually think about how little I know about some of neighbors, it’s pretty alarming. The most I know is there is an older couple who lives across from us and a family of four to the left of us who absolutely love to be out-doors. Kindness isn’t something that should be limited only to the people you know.

  4. Hello professor Graham, this is Niyanta Marfatia from General Psychology C04. I can also completely relate to not having a relationship with my neighbors. I have lived in my home for nearly three two years now and only have a “Hi/Hello” relationship with my neighbors. I can agree with you in the fact that sometimes we do need to just slow down ad look around us to give out a helping hand, to be able to see that others do need help and if we can only take the time to observe, we too, can help. I can relate this to our psychology class is personality. There are a lot of people who are largely involved with their neighbors, whom love to have get-togeathers. While others may just be too busy in their own lives who have their own circle of friends and just want to just continue their “hi’s” and “hello’s”

    • Hello! Jessica Bell here, from class C04. While reading this article, I was reminded of the relationship my family has with their neighbors. My parents are very welcoming people and have always been friendly with the neighbors. My parents love to make friends and party, so my mother always invites her neighbors, employees, and other friends for a Sunday grill out. We all love the feeling of giving and entertaining, so this was how I was raised. Because of this upbringing, I find joy and purpose in helping others and sometimes find it hard to refuse to help someone even if I have other plans or duties. I just don’t like letting an opportunity to help someone slip away, and have the mindset of “if not me, then who else will help them?”

      I was also reminded of the discussion of how genetic makeup of one’s personality can influence one’s decision-making. In class, you mentioned the existence of a niceness gene, which can make someone more likely to help others. If I have the niceness gene or not is unknown; maybe the way I was raised help me to overcome my predisposition not to care. Either way, you do not need the niceness gene to go out of your way and aid others. And the feeling you get once you have made a difference can not be beaten!

    • cc; professor Graham Gen Psyc C04
      I can personally relate to the article that I do not know my neighbors at all. Especially since I just moved to this country, when I got here my family told me “its different here not like back home where you can get close with the neighbors, here everybody minds their own business all you have to do is say hi or wave at them that’s it” being given that information may have infected me because that is what I had to adopt. This can be an example of prejudice in classical conditioning whereby my neighbors appear to be CS, my parents being US thus as a result me doing what they said made me UR.

  5. I’ve often thought about this same “knowing my neighbor” concept. Me nor my family really know any of our next door neighbors. We have seen them come and go from all directions pretty often and yet we are the only family who has stuck around. Because of this it can be hard to always interact when we have a new one every year. But fortunately, we do have the pleasure of being basically family with the neighbors who live behind us. Our relationship has grown over the years to the point that it’s not uncommon to ask for a baby sitter, or to pass a cup of Flower over the fence. (After a part of our fence broke we didn’t even see the need to fix it- it made passing things back and fourth easier). But our relationship between both families would not have progressed intimately if not for my outgoing grandmother who showed me how to get off the treadmill. This women is the most christian and godly person I know. She’s been an ordained minister for over 18 years and the reason my dad saw it as a necessity for me to grow up in the church. So how is it that she became so close to our Muslim neighbors that they now have a mother-daughter relationship? I was pretty surprised when my grandmother came home one day to tell me of her wonderful experience going to the home of the Mosque Sheik (or priest) with my neighbor. “I’ve never been welcomed into a strangers home so sweetly” she said. If not for her, there is no way we would all have such a tight bond. What would our relationship be like if not for her? Would it still easy to invite each other over ALL the time, or go to the Muslim mosque for a baby shower and not be uncomfortable? I doubt it.
    My family’s relationship with our neighbors is a great example of our conditioned emotion responses (CERs). In 2016 many prejudices, racism, etc. is more visible than ever- especially between Muslims and Christians. I would have never thought I’d step foot into a Muslim mosque, not because I might be prejudice but simply because our families hold different religious beliefs. I think because both families of our families point of views have changed it’s easy to say that all of our CERs have been positively altered.
    -Jasmine Homer General Psych CO3

  6. Hello, professor Graham. this is John Buckles from General Psychology CO3. I can completely relate to not being very close to neighbors, as I have lived in my home for 12 years now, and would only consider one or two of them as friends. Sure, I’ll wave to many of them as I drive by, but there are not many whom I would invite over for dinner, or to watch the game. I think this might have a lot to do with extroversion vs introversion like we discussed in class. However, I generally consider myself an extrovert, this may be a case of my personality changing due to the situation. Typically, when I am out and about, I am very friendly and outgoing. I think the difference between my relationships with my neighbors, and my other relationships, may be that I can’t avoid my neighbors. If I just had a fight with my significant other, I can easily avoid them by not making plans. However, If I have a fight with my neighbor, they can’t be avoided. They live where I live, and we will be forced to interact or to awkwardly ignore each other on the street. By avoiding developing a relationship with my neighbors, I avoid this hypothetical awkward situation. The reason for this must be related to the person-situation theory, as I act so differently with my neighbors than I do with with the other people in my life.

  7. This ties into the chapter about perception because we tend to look at things one way, but aren’t careful enough to see things differently. We all live busy lives, but we need to be aware of our surroundings. We may think that everyone is fine as we walk past them, because we mainly pay attention to what we’re going through. I’m lucky enough to have good friends and family that will genuinly ask how I’m doing and will give me good advice if I’m going through some trouble. Once I started doing the same, it made me feel like a better person because I knew I could help at least a little by given them some advice or even just by being there actively listening about what was going on. Things happen and we get so caught up in our own lives, but we need to be aware that others may need a helping hand and we need to be there for them whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, or even a stranger.

  8. Hello Professor Graham, this is Kieron Fassitt from your 10am Psych C04 class. I sadly must admit that I have little to no relationship with my current neighbors. I have been living in the same apartment complex for 2 1/2 years and I don’t know any of my neighbors by name. This is a change for me because in the neighborhood I grew up in, I knew everybody. Now that I think about it, my kids know almost all of their peers in the complex. I think that maybe it’s because as adults we become so wrapped up in our own worlds that we hardly even notice our fellow humans unless we are forced to interact with them in school or at work. It’s kind of like in class how you were saying that we all live in a box and the goal is to expand that box. I’m naturally a talkative, friendly person, so that isn’t a problem for me. It’s more of an issue of time, where I feel like I don’t really have the time to chat it up with everybody. However, I do agree with you that in rushing through life we are missing golden opportunities to get to know amazing people or help people in distress. I despise the “treadmill existence” also, and I will join you in an effort to find my purpose in every moment.

  9. Good morning Professor Graham, this is Lloyd Jacobs from General Psychology C05. I also struggle with what you call, “treadmill existence”, the everyday monotony that goes on can drive a person insane. Without the drive of someones own will, a person can forget that life is free will. If you want to see a change in your life, a person must make that change themselves. Id like to compare this blog to classical conditioning. During the learning phase, a person learns from experience, therefore now that you have lived a period of time not knowing your neighbors, you can learn from this experience and can make changes to your life to mold into a life you want.

  10. cc; professor Graham Gen Psyc C04
    I can personally relate to the article that I do not know my neighbors at all. Especially since I just moved to this country, when I got here my family told me “its different here not like back home where you can get close with the neighbors, here everybody minds their own business all you have to do is say hi or wave at them that’s it” being given that information may have infected me because that is what I had to adopt. This can be an example of prejudice in classical conditioning whereby my neighbors appear to be CS, my parents being US thus as a result me doing what they said made me UR.

  11. I have lived in my same house for 11 years, and my relationship with my neighbors has varied during those times. For the first seven years of my life, I lived in California and my neighbors were all extremely close with me. When I first moved to Texas, my neighbors were very inviting in the same way that they were in my first home. But as time moved on and my neighbors changed, my relationship with most of them is a simple wave. I find your point about how some neighbors may be suffering to be interesting because with a wave, you really can’t tell how their life is going. Having at least a speaking relationship with your neighbors (other than the ones that feud with you over nothing) is important. A lot of my neighbors are elderly, and as I’ve learned in your class, their memories are often faded. So, there are a few cases where no matter how often I speak to the neighbor, they just won’t remember our conversation longer than five minutes. Of course, most neighbors aren’t like this and I should start engaging in more conversation with them.

  12. Maris Horne
    Gen. Psychology 2301.C05
    I believe that the not communicating with others deal with the type of people we are. I totally agree people should be more social with people they don’t know. However, as you taught in lecture everyone has their own personality.Some introverts and some extroverts which plays a role in why people have issues with communicating with people they don’t know, because they are too afraid to jump outside their routine or bubble.

  13. Hello professor Graham, this is Jennifer Loya from General Psychology 2301 C03. I can relate to not having a relationship with my neighbors. I have lived in my parents home about a year now. Sometimes we say “Hi/Hello” to each other, but their is days that we don’t even make eye contact. I can agree we as “Christians” need to help out others in need. Many people are i their comfort zone, and don’t step out to help other. Getting out of a comfort zone is hard, but its an advantage an individual should of taken. I can relate this to our psychology class is personality Traits. An individual like the one in the blog was in her comfort zone, but many don’t know whats going on in their lives. For example the personality assessment thematic is a test used to assume how a person is psychology dealing with life. Like we make up a story about the card/picture, we make up a story for an individual. We don’t know what going on, on their lives. If the individuals does Reciprocal determinist then it will be more like for an individual to do something to effect the environment. For example helping others will effect the environment.

  14. Hello professor Graham, this is Dulcie Church from General Psychology C05. I have found myself being in a similar situation myself. While I just moved to Texas his summer many of my neighbors have said hello and welcome to the neighborhood, we haven’t had a real conversation. I think part of it is that I am an introvert and shy and generally I do not initiate conversation with others. I think that the type of personality you and your neighbor have can influence the type of relationship that you have; if your neighbor is extroverted and outgoing the chances of having a genuine conversation are much higher than with an introvert. I think that we need to take a step back from our lives and say hi, and have a genuine conversation with our neighbors. Who knows they may be in a similar situation as you and they could become more than just the neighbor next to you that you say hello to when you pass their house.

  15. When I lived in my old house in McKinney, my neighbors were always so welcoming with open arms and I could never understand why. When my family was going through hard times, they were constantly checking up on us, asking if we were okay and trying to get us to tell them what was going on. On the other hand, I thought they were the most intruding people ever. However, I was too young and naïve to comprehend that they were just trying to serve their purpose for God. As a young adult today, I now see that they are one of the nicest and friendliest people in the world. And although I miss them living right across from us, I know that I have to get of my treadmill (as they have taught me to do so) and get to know my new neighbors and community. You never know what someone is going through. One simple “Hi, how’re you?” or “How is your day?” can impact them greatly.

  16. I believe that I am the neighbor who only says Hello, How are you? I give a quick waive and I’m on and back to my business. I am also on the treadmill. Finding out the lady at the gym has MS would more than likely be a missed opportunity for me. I would have had my headphones on and focused on completing my work out and trying to move on to the next thing on my list for the day. I believe that as a Christian you need to be more open to communication with everyone around you not only the people in your circle. You never know who you will be able to encourage. As far as Principles of Psychology, I believe this blog applies to the mental set definition. I say this because it is very easy to keep our daily routine in life because it’s what works for us and our families. But, you hardly ever take the time to stop and think because you are unconsciously ignoring the facts. in a way you have a functional fixedness and you are fixed on doing what makes your life easier and more comfortable. You should take the time out each day and try to get to know other people outside of your box. You can help other people simply by being there for them simply by holding a short conversation. You never know, they may not have anyone else in their life to confide in. You could also be an example to others and teach unselfishness. Learning to find other ways to function by finding other people reminds me of the Triarchic Theory. You have the ability to be Analytical and compare the situation you’re experiencing. You can evaluate and analyze. You can be creative by finding a way to quickly adapt in the unique situation. Finally, you can be practical by dealing with what you’ve learned and apply it to your every day tasks.

  17. Brittanie Price
    Professor Williams
    Gen Psych 2301 12-12:50

    Extra Credit

    While reading the first blog What Kind of Neighbor Are You, I noticed several parts of the principles of psychology. The writer was explaining what it is like to live in treadmill existence, which personally sounded like living in habit to me. Day to day I wake up and do my daily routine which consists of either going to work or going to school on certain set days. I fail to make a change in my life, to make something different. Some days I help out a friend or even a stranger in need, but it needs to be more often.
    The writer was explaining her daily routine which sounded similar to mine, however one day something in her stream of consciousness had changed. An opportunity to do something different was presented, and she was destined to help someone lost in their own emotion. The opportunity at hand involved a woman who had a disease called multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis eats away at cells within the body and makes it very hard to move or sometimes even see. The woman with the medical condition told the writer that her disease was physically beating her down. Ironically, the writer met the woman with the disease inside of a gym, she was trying to overcome her disease and not let it take over her mind and body. The woman with the disease had a will power that many people lack today. It is so easy to just give up due to our emotions taking over our mind. When lost in emotion people typically forget what is important in life, and that is where the treadmill existence occurs.

  18. Hello Professor Graham. This is Brittany Blakemore who is in your PSYC 2301.CO3 course. I have known the neighbors in the house next door to mine for years and we talk all of the time. I know I can rely on them in any kind of situation to help me out; however, I do not know my neighbors across the street from me as much as I would like to. They have not lived in the house very long so I have not had a chance to formally meet them yet. I know they have two daughters and a step son who I went to school with so I do know him. I see them outside a lot when I pull out of my driveway and wave, but I do not know them as much as I should. In lecture, we learned how personality is the willingness to grow and change, take risks, and work to overcome obstacles. I believe instead of just going along with my normal routine, I should try to get to know my neighbors more. Sometimes, it can be difficult to change or to try new things like in this situation, to get to know new people, but in reality, we should overcome the fear of interacting with new people. Just think, if we can get to know our neighbors, we will be able to interact with strangers to make new friends or even just to help someone out if they need it. Sometimes small conversions or even a simple smile can make someone’s day.

  19. Hello Professor Graham, I never really thought about life like that to be honest, but know that I take a step back and take a wider look on life of mine and neighbors I get it. We as people usually are just worried about ourselves and our problems and no body else could possibly be having struggles as bad as we have it. I think we all just need to take a moment a truly think and care about what is going on in other people lives, this relates to psychology how everyone needs love whether it be a quick hug or talking about whats on your mind, I think everyone really need reassurance that they are not alone in life and can lean on others instead of keeping it all bottled up.
    Heaven Harris Psyc-2301.C03

  20. Reading this made me realize that I, too, have paid little attention to my neighbors. As you called it, we get stuck in the treadmill existence. I think is also partly because of the type of society we have developed, the individualistic society, where we only focus on ourselves and how we can better ourselves.

    When most people think about helping others, they look at how it helps them rather than just the act in itself. I believe this applies to being a Christian as well, some are a Christian on Sundays but only use the title as just that, a title. They do a huge amount of inappropriate things for the in the moment satisfaction, not paying attention to what it could do to others. As I said previously, as a whole we spend most of our time focusing on our lives and what’s going on with ourselves because of the current society we live in. The individualistic mindset of “how does this help me/ what do I get out of this” has diminished how we interact with others. I’ve seen it in myself, I focus on work and school and don’t pay attention to the people around me. I’ve lived in the same place for three, going on four, years and I don’t know any of my neighbors. My eyes have recently started opening and I’ve put an effort towards getting to know the people around me: friends, neighbors, coworkers, all of them. I’m naturally introverted and afraid to speak but I’ve learned that a smile can go a long way.

  21. I am Latravia Taylor from your CO3 10 am class this relates back to our classes a lot of ways , it can relate back to personality traits depending on someones personality that can affect if they will be on open neighbor or one to not talk smile or anything at all. i have lived in my apartment for about 6 months and i have a little old lady who lives next to me and she is the sweetest thing ever anything i need she is more than willing to give me. The reasons some people have good or bad personalizes is because of the things affected by them.

  22. Hello, this is Melissa Prieto from General Psych class C04. As soon as you mentioned the “treadmill existence” I knew what you were referring to, I could just never give it a real term. I consider this to be one of my greatest fears. The thought of constantly repeating the same events exhausts me. Of course, it’s good to have a set routine, but like you said, you never know what awaits you, even in your own neighborhood. Unfortunately, I relate to not having a bond with my neighbors. However, since I just moved to a new house, I’m making sure to exchange hellos every now and then. I do believe though that everyday life may be even more hectic for others, therefore it’s not always possible to establish friendship. I thought of your reference to us “living in a box”. It may be hard for many, but we see our neighbors almost everyday, so we should at least make an effort. Extroversion vs introversion also came to mind, as our individual psychological traits make us act in different ways.

  23. Professor Graham,
    This is Bailey Prince from General Psyc. 2301.C03.
    To start off with, I have recently moved a little less than a year go and for a short amount of time I think my neighbors and I have a pretty decent friendship. I live in the country and so we are not right next door to each other. However, I think for the most part we all get along well. Our neighbors across the street came over for Easter and when their father down the road got lost in a field because his diabetes affected him, we watched their two boys. Then their is the fire chief who just bought some land and is working on getting his house built. Then our others neighbors recently moved. It is honestly pretty nice having neighbors you can count on and trust. They are really great people and I am lucky to know them. However I think the way this relates to psychology would be the fact that we have a certain genetic makeup and even though we cannot change it, we can try to defy it. Say just because your parents have never been the social kind or raised you to be that way, doesn’t mean you can’t change that. You can make an effort to be that kind of person who reaches out and tries to make an effort with their Neighbors.

  24. Hello Professor Graham, this is Darya Morey from General Psychology C04. This blog has hit close to home recently actually. I have lived in the same house for 10 years. Next to the same people for 10 years. We have a good connection with most our neighbors. Or so we thought. We would do the casual
    “hello and goodbye” as we moved on with our day. We would occasionally sit outside catching up on life. However, my family and I felt we weren’t reaching out as much as we should to one particular close neighbor. Now I don’t want to say too much out of the respect of my new friendly neighbor, but they are a lovely older couple who live alone and rarely come out as much as the rest of the family’s on the street. We figured they didn’t have the energy to come out and socialize with the rest of us on our “Friday night funs”. So we let them be and didn’t reach out as much. Casually the monthly subject at church was how to be a good neighbor. After deliberating on how to be a good neighbor we noticed the bushes across the street (the older couple’s house) they weren’t in good shape, so we decided to see if we could help them out and trim the bushes. Little did I know that we were about to open a whole new door in on some one’s life. Things I would have never thought anyone would have to deal with there were going through. We learned a lot about them and also opened new doors to help out another family on the street. It definitely opened my eyes, even when you think you are in a good spot god always has more instore for you. Things you can even imagine. I am a strong advocate for setting down your phone and observing your surroundings. It is not only healthy for you to look away from your phone, but you can learn a lot and meet a lot of new people if you open your eyes. Love this Blog!

  25. My relationship with my neighbors has always always been very close. My family has always been very welcoming and inviting, and that’s how I was raised. My parents would invite our neighbors over to dinner, and sometimes just to hangout. we would always help each other out. We were all comfortable asking each other for favors. I was always very friendly and close to the neighbors, until the new neighbors moved in. I have never even spoken to the new people that moved in next door. Even though my parents raised me to be very kind and inviting, I still have trouble making myself do it. I believe this is because of my social environment. I was raised and taught one way, but because of the world I grew up in and have lived in, I act a different way. I never realized how different things have been ever since the new people moved in. I don’t know a single thing about them. I don’t even know how many people are living in that house. I am already very introverted and my social environment has made me accustomed to a reserved state of mind that keeps me less open and it has shaped me to be not as inviting as I should be. I now see that I should be more inviting and, although I am always willing to help others, I need to be more open. I know that what I am doing is not the right approach to a good relationship and it should be changed. However, knowing myself I will most likely not make an effort to change this. Even though I know what is wrong and how to fix it, I can’t make myself do it simply because of the way that my social environment has affected me.

    Jose Ibarra PSYC 2301 C05

  26. Hello professor Graham, this is Mackenzie Hudson from General Psychology C04. I move to Texas two years ago from Oklahoma and lived in the same house for 16 years. I am very introverted and have always liked to keep to myself. My best friend was my next door neighbor Hunter. We were inseparable when we were young, but once we got older we began to drift apart. I started to become more involved in sports and school activities, and inadvertently leaving Hunter behind. He was always a little off but I never had the courage to ask him what was wrong. When he was14 he tried to commit suicide in his room. It turns out that Hunter had struggled with depression and self mutilation for a while. I kept thinking to myself what if I asked? Could have the three words “are you okay” help him in a significant way? I learned from this experience to “love thy neighbor as thyself “(Mark 12:31). Any person can seem alright on the outside but may be struggling on the inside.

    • I’m so sorry that this happened. It’s not your fault. So many of us do this exact same things. Maybe the fact that it happened and impacted you the way it did will be a piece in making sure it doesn’t happen to someone else in the future.

  27. Professor Graham, this is Elizabeth Smith from general psych-2301.C05. First off, I think that was a beautifully written post, and you are very talented.

    This post reminded me of the TED talk by Drew Dudley that we watched earlier in the year about the man who handed a guy a lollipop and had him talk to that girl standing in line with her parents. When the girl came to him years later and invited the man to the kids’ wedding, he didn’t even remember what he did. Though he didn’t remember, the simplicity of handing that lollipop, changed the course of their lives forever.

    That TED talk made me think about who has had that kind of impact on my life. I thought back to when my worst fear in the world was childbirth, until I met my mom’s friend, Bethany, who told me to watch a netflix documentary called “The Business of Being Born”. After watching that, I had a newfound sense of wonderment towards childbirth and slowly, the more I researched, my fears faded. Ever since then, I have felt a strong calling towards midwifery, and now I can’t picture myself doing anything else.

    I had to tell Bethany about how she touched my life in such a beautiful way. I will be forever grateful that she told me to watch that documentary.

    You never know how a word or two will affect someone. Your kindness with the lady at the gym may stay with her forever. When you stopped and noticed her, you redefined leadership by valuing the little things that we do everyday. You made her life better by that simple, powerful, lollipop-leadership moment.

  28. Hi Professor Graham. This is Jasmin Banton from Gen Psych-2301 C05.
    This post reminded me of how antisocial we are as people. We can live in such close quarters with someone and see them everyday, yet know nothing about them. I feel as though we are all just conditioned to follow our “daily grinds.”

    Personally, I only know one of my neighbors (Servando). All we do is wave hello and goodbye. On my way to school one day, I saw Servando crying on his doorstep. I lacked the courage to go up and ask what happened. My brother is really good friends with his daughter and he told me that it was the birthday of his daughter who passed away. I had no idea that he even had another daughter and that he struggled with it everyday.

    I will try to break away from my conditioned response of looking the other way. This was instilled upon me growing up. I was told that I should not bother other people and that I should mind my own business.

  29. Psychology 2301. Thomas Ely

    This work really resonates with me. Growing up with an older Brother that was bullied very badly, I learned at a very young age to notice and consider other peoples feelings. Many times I have made an impact on a strangers life and can honestly say I have gone through life without making one person feel bad about themselves. As a young child 1st-5th grade I was very popular, everybody wanted to come over to my house or hangout with me. But I was always interested in making friends with the quiet shy or unliked kids in my classes. You talk about finding ones purpose, mine I already know. It is to be a rock for everyone around me. A human safe zone/ motivator mentor if you will.
    Beyond your point of helping that lady at the gym, I also relate deeply with your treadmill theory. Again at a young age, I noticed this phenomenon you call “treadmill theory” in my father. He is a die hard businessman m-f 7-7 would come home and sit on the couch until he went to bed at 9pm. He also had us move from what was any child’s paradise to a crappy place neither me, my brother or my mother wanted to be. I quickly realized i wanted my life to be more interesting. So everyday with whatever I am doing I try to find ways to mix it up and live the most fulfilling life possible. Most likely the main reason for my popularity among my friends.

  30. Hello Professor, this is Humza from general psychology 2301.C05. I can relate to this because although my neighbors let me sit their dog while they go on vacation I don’t really seem to know much about them. I am a Muslim, I am different from my neighbors (that are of a Christian majority) and from my knowledge the teachings of Islam are very similar to that of Christianity, and I believe in being a good neighbor however its not something I can say that I genuinely put effort in. It seems like we seem to put more of in effort when it comes to knowing the people we go to the Mosque or Church with, but do we really know things about the people that live next door to us? Perhaps its the fact that our beliefs may be different, maybe we don’t want to put in the effort to understand others when we already maintain relationships with people that do share similar beliefs. From a psychological perspective, I hypothesize that these feelings of contempt are formed from a mental set which implies that only people with similar beliefs are worth our time. A way to make a change would be by forming these small relationships, it could be with neighbors, barbers, and anyone that we interact with regularly.

  31. Professor Graham, this is Sydney Rorick from gen psychology 2301.
    I’ve gotta say I feel like these are things I’m aware of but don’t necessarily give thought to. I feel like that’s part of having our heads in the sand and not being aware of our communication barriers and being so tunnel focused on our goals and our needs that we block out the people around us. Feeling like you’re stuck in a routine is totally normal. For the longest time, I felt stuck here in a routine that I was dying to break out of. After reading this though (and I know this might sound cheesy) I feel like there’s this whole other world that’s right in front of me. Just interacting with people can change up your daily life in a huge way. If you branch out and talk you can learn new things about the people already in your life. Now thinking about it, there are plenty of people in my day to day life that I should tell how much they mean to me more often. I don’t think about it as much as I should but I’ve been trying to do better about it and let my friends and family know how much I appreciate them.

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