Steps You Can Take to Make a Kinder NYC


New York City is rough.  You don’t have to be.

Patience.  The sacred pause.  Getting in touch with the breath.  Call it what you will, it’s often hard to maintain the patience necessary to preserve a sense of calm in this city.  Yet calm and patience are exactly what’s called for in
order to maintain a sense of what Bhikkhu Bodhi refers to as ‘Communal Harmony.’  

“It’s clear that without each other, we can’t possibly make it through the day.”

And it is just that communal harmony that we all depend on throughout the day.  For truly, in no other city is interdependence more on display than in New York City. We depend upon the subway conductor to get us to work. For example, we depend on the elevator operator to take us to our floor and our dog walker to walk our dog when we’re at work.  And we depend on the trash collectors and street sweepers to keep our streets clean.  It’s clear that without each other, we can’t possibly make it through the day. Yet how do we treat each other?  It’s a good question to reflect upon.

What can I do?

There are so many things all of us can do, in addition to exercising patience, to make the city more livable.  We can say hi to a neighbor, help someone carry a heavy load up the subway stairs, offer a seat on the bus.  More actions include:

  • Depositing our trash in a trash can and recycling always!
  • Getting to know co-workers’ likes and interests
  • Saying ‘thank you’ to a tired check-out worker
  • Refraining from judging others and harboring ill will
  • Resist the urge to lash out when someone is unkind to us–because this will happen!

New York City has some great, cost-free programs that, with a little patience, can go a long way to improve your life.  Is your neighborhood an urban jungle?  You can request that the city plant a tree in your area.

You can prevent organic waste going into landfills (think of all those take-out containers in the back of your refrigerator) by ordering a compost bin for your building.  No more feeling guilty for all that broccoli that went bad in your crisper!  If your building is too small or you live in a single-family dwelling, you can by a low cost composting bin from the city.

Another great program the city has is donateNYC.  Through this program you can donate things you no longer need–clothes, books, paints, those rollerblades you bought and used once.  If you need something you can check out their swap meets, which take place several times a week throughout New York City.  Additionally, Billion Acts is a website devoted to fostering one billion acts of peace.  Additionally, join this online group in encouraging Random Acts of Kindness.  As the Buddha said, “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”  So, let’s all work together fill that water pot with individual acts of peace.

And That’s Not All!

These are just some of the opportunities for improving NYC that we can offer you.  There’s more where that came from! Compassion NYC is an Engaged Buddhist group that coordinates group volunteer activities of all kinds throughout the year.  Be sure to check back here regularly to find out what we’re up to, then join in the fun.  We look forward to seeing you at our next event.