How do you follow a lousy year? By making the next one count. The world might be headed toward any number of disasters, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and better it in the process—or at least better yourself beyond the usual resolutions to shrink your figure and fatten your wallet. How?
Write your state legislators. Maybe you’re feeling pretty despondent after the election. But remember: All politics is local, and Nevada lawmakers will convene on February 6 to craft, deliberate and vote on bills for the biennial legislative session. Now’s a good time to consider the issues on which you place the greatest import and share those concerns with your reps, regardless of their party affiliation.
Turn down the social media volume. Reduce the amount of apps that send you notifications. Delete the Facebook app (and its oppressive little Messenger brother). Mute the blood-boilers on Twitter. Pare down your Reddit follow list. Limit your Snapchat and Instagram check-ins to once or twice a day.
In fact, just unplug more often. Remember the complacent and immobile uber-consumers of Wall-E? We’re hurtling toward such detachment and technological serfdom. So spend less time on your phone/tablet, video games and TV, and prioritize actual people and experiences.
Take notice of and help the elderly. Like Majestic Repertory Theatre artistic director Troy Heard. He recently spotted Betty, a dutiful, 92-year-old widow who had to take an physically demanding job at Walmart to get by. So he corralled his social media network to help surprise a person of limited means with an amazing Christmas, and the community rallied with a nearly $5,000 GoFundMe haul and other gifts. Of course, donations aren’t the only way to give someone a boost. You could just follow Heard’s example by simply being aware of those who struggle, offering a helping hand and making them smile in the process.
Find a social/fitness group online. If there’s one saving grace for post-election Facebook and Reddit, it’s the community groups that make meeting new people easier. For IRL fraternizing, Meetup remains a fantastic way to seek out folks with similar interests, especially when it comes to hiking, yoga and other physical endeavors that come with a fitness bonus. (And if you just don’t trust anything online, you can still find old-school community boards at coffeehouses, spiritual facilities and stores like REI and 11th Street Records.)
Switch to AmazonSmile. Here’s one small, risk-free way of chipping in. If you visit smile.amazon.com, you’ll be prompted to select from one of the many local charities and nonprofits. From then on, your chosen benefactor will receive 0.5 percent of your non-delivery, non-tax purchase totals. That can add up, especially those of you now buying groceries through Amazon Prime Now.
Create. Instead of dwelling on the growing terribleness of the world, why not creatively interpret it—or something more pleasant—on the canvas of your choosing? If you need some direction or practice, public painting classes (like at Bubblegum Gallery) and drawing sessions (Mr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at Artifice) abound throughout the Valley. Or bring some beer and cheap art supplies to a buddy’s house and collaborate.
Make your work break a real work break. If you work near a park, spot of grass or other open public place, head over with your meal, sit down and clear your head. It all but erases whatever cruddy morning you had.
Remember those who did you a solid. If someone scores you a comp or helps you unpack a moving van on a hot afternoon, don’t let that favor go unreturned. Make a note of your debt somewhere, with a deadline within the month to pay it back.
Meet your neighbors. The refrain “I don’t know who lives next door” is entirely too common and one of the reasons why Las Vegans a) don’t project more civic pride and b) feel alone. Whether it’s an impromptu introduction at the community mailbox or a visit to someone else’s doorstep with a baked or bought New Year’s goodie in hand, take a cue from Mr. Rogers and be someone’s neighbor.
Give. Be it your time, money and/or compassion—because all those things are in increasingly short supply. If there was ever a time to scratch that volunteering itch, it’s now.