Remember our neighbor, Mr. Rogers? You may laugh at his ever-cheerful, ever-cheesy feel, but Mr. Rogers has many of the answers to how we can improve our own neighborhoods — even if it's impossible to make ours as perfect as his. Here are just 10 of the things Mr. Rogers says can make your neighborhood beautiful — with some added thoughts from me.
1. Make friends with your neighbors and don't judge
"It's you I like," Mr. Roger sings. He continues that it's not the way "you do your hair" but "the way you are right now. The way down deep inside you."
Mr. Rogers is friends with everyone from the speedy delivery man to the worker at the shoe store. It's easy to judge people by their appearances or mannerisms.
Try to get to know others as a real people. You'll be surprised.
2. Be kind; nobody's perfect
Ignoring as best we can her ginormous red nose, Lady Elaine is our nightmare neighbor. She is bossy, proud, ungrateful and she wants things her own way.
Don't be that neighbor.
Remember, even people like Lady Elaine aren't horrible human beings. Every time I see her singing boisterously with Handyman Negri (season 13, episode 2), I about die laughing. I'm sure you remember other moments. And, well, the people in the neighborhood love Lady Elaine and treat her with kindness, despite her weaknesses.
But let me give you a real-life example. Growing up, we had a neighbor who could see our entire yard from her back window. Nothing could go on in our yard without her calling a few minutes later to ask us about it. Needless to say, it made us uneasy and annoyed. She knew our daily yard work routine. I couldn't even go on a date without her waving at us from her window.
But, we loved her. All she needed was a friend. She'd had a tough life and was lonely. When it came down to it, she meant well, as did Lady Elaine.
3. Share when appropriate and don't covet what's not yours
In an episode about sharing (season 13, episode 1), Ana and Prince Tuesday are fighting about who gets to wear what costume. Eventually, they learn to share and all is well — until Lady Elaine pops in.
She wants Ana's special shoes, and Ana refuses to give them. Upset, Lady Elaine takes the matter to King Friday. And what does King Friday say? While sharing is important, some things don't need to be shared — perhaps because they have sentimental value to their owners.
If your neighbor needs to borrow your rake, lend it willingly. No harm done.
In turn, be respectful of what people are willing to lend you. Don't covet what is rightfully theirs. It would be silly to be angry when they won't let you borrow their great-great-grandfather's croquet set.
4. Help others
Helping others can be as simple as a cheery "hello," or, it can be something more time consuming like dog sitting or planning a party (as Lady Elaine does for Henrietta in season 16, episode 11).
In fact, just the other day, I was walking down the street feeling a little stressed when someone happily greeted me. I didn't even know the person, but their cheerful greeting was all I needed to de-stress.
5. Show appreciation
In season 26, episode 12, Neighbor Aber tries to vacuum the area around Lady Elaine's museum as an act of kindness. She gets very angry and tells him to go away because the vacuum is too noisy.
When others try to help, show appreciation. They are sacrificing their time for you.
6. Care for the environment
Mr. Rogers cares about the environment. He reflects on ideas such as planting a garden and recycling (season 30, episode 1; season 20, episode 7).
Having a nice yard, growing your own food and managing your trash can really help the environment and beautify your area.
Consider picking up trash in your neighborhood or sharing the produce you grow.
7. Take care of your pets and your kids
As Mr. Rogers would tell you, animals should be respected, loved and cared for. An animal that is loved and cared for will behave and will not, therefore, rampage through the neighborhood bringing noise and destruction — and they'll be safer, as well.
The same goes for your children. Of course, let your kids play with the other children in the neighborhood. But if you merely let them run wild, never paying attention to them, not only will your neighbors will be annoyed, but your kids will be in danger.
If pets and kids aren't noticed by their parents, they will seek entertainment elsewhere — often where they aren't wanted.
Kids and pets are supposed to bring people joy. Let yours do just that.
8. Make each day beautiful
Mr. Rogers also sings, "make a snappy new day." Try to be positive about each new day. This will make both you and those around you happier.
Mr. Rogers is all about teaching kids how things are made. Why not learn a new skill and share what you learn?
Or, you could learn about current local issues and see how you can contribute to the solutions. Attend city caucuses, for example, or vote.
10. Feel good about yourself
"Feeling good about ourselves is essential in our being able to love others," said Mr. Rogers. If you feel good about yourself, you are less likely to degrade others and more likely to seek the good. You will feel confident in your ability to help others in some way.