How do you like to spend a Saturday night out? For one-third of Americans, the choice is a nice meal in a restaurant, according to a Monitor/TIPP poll. That beats seeing a live show or going to a party. (See story, page 1.)
Just having someone serve you a meal is a "way for people to feel valued," points out one professor. That seems like an expensive path to happiness. Is there another way?
Perhaps self-worth really lies in helping others feel worthy. But that would mean being more involved with friends, neighbors, and community.
Such civic engagement was the topic of a project called the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University last year.
The group came up with "100 Things You Can Do to Build Social Capital." Here are a few of those community-enhancing activities that may be an alternative to dining out:
Surprise a new neighbor by making a favorite dinner - include the recipe - and invite other neighbors.
Form a computer group for local seniors.
Host a movie night.
Start a fix-it group of people willing to help clean, paint, garden, etc.
Form or join a bowling team.
Register for a class, and then go.
Volunteer to deliver meals-on-wheels.
Collect oral histories from older town residents.
And, if you must eat out:
Persuade a local restaurant to have a designated "meet people" table.
For more, see the website: www.bettertogether.org.