Most of us can quickly name at least one person who is extremely thoughtful, and our minds turn to these wonderful friends as we count our blessings this time of year. If only we ourselves could be so thoughtful, we think . . . we do try to be nice and kind to everyone, but when God queued us up to receive our gifts, we decide that maybe He didn’t put us in the über-thoughtful line.
Thoughtful is as Thoughtful Does
It’s really a no-brainer concept: Want to be more thoughtful? Do what thoughtful people do.
Extremely thoughtful people share certain qualities, and although some seem to be born with an extra kindness gene, you already have everything you need to be a more thoughtful person.
There is caring, and then there is caring—which leads to another no-brainer concept: You think about, and make time for, what really matters in your life. Of course you’re not a bad person if you forget to send a birthday card, but the more action you take with love, the more thoughtful you’ll become.
When you really care about something, you focus on it. You notice the kind of golf balls your friend uses. You hear a coworker raving over a certain coffee flavoring. File that sort of information away; you’ll find that by paying attention to others’ likes and needs, suddenly you’ll see ways to be thoughtful at every turn.
When you pay attention to what someone is saying to you—giving someone your full consideration—you’ll glean ways on how to be more thoughtful at a later time. Be mindful that listening is, in itself, one of the most meaningful acts of thoughtfulness you’ll ever give.
Acts of Kindness
Although showing someone you care on special occasions is always thoughtful, those who fall into the über-thoughtful category usually perform unexpected acts of kindness. Here are some ideas of how to put love into action—just tailor the specifics to your family, friends, coworkers, etc.
- Buy a bag of peppermints and refill the bowl in a coworker’s office
- Pull your neighbor’s trashcan to the curb
- Write some encouraging words on a sticky note and put it on a coworker’s computer screen
- When you see a family eyeing your dessert, order another one for their table
- Offer to finish making copies so your coworker can make it to daycare on time
- Take some special-interest magazines to friends in ICU waiting rooms
- Dig up a few flower bulbs and give them to a friend who always admires your garden
- Have quarters on hand for coworkers who never have enough for the vending machine
- When you stumble upon a site with the exact item your friend has been looking for, forward the link
- Buy some note cards from the dollar bin for spur-of-the moment thank yous
- Stash some crackers/peanut butter in your desk and let coworkers know to help themselves
- When a friend’s loved one passes way, find out the loved one’s birthday, or other special day and mark your calendar to check in with your friend on those dates
- Take a thermos of hot chocolate to a committee meeting
- Text, call, email . . . or better yet, go old-school and simply say “thank you,” “just checking on you,” and “holler if you need me” in person
Hey, nobody is perfect and this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip; we’re all doing the best that we can. But sometimes, it takes redefining best to make a personality change, and becoming a consistently thoughtful person often requires care in action.
Judy Bumgarner is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She also works at Brentwood United Methodist Church in the church’s Caring Ministry.