When I was growing up, I was taught to be “mindful” and considerate of others around me. For me, it was just an obvious extension of the Golden Rule. You treat others as you would want to be treated, EVEN if they didn’t treat you the same way. Personally, I took that as a challenge to be as kind, as considerate, as thoughtful of others as I would want them to be to me. Now, of course, I wasn’t and still aren’t, as successful in my day to day life as I would like to be. I can be short with people, as well as hurried and less than thoughtful. This value, this idea of Thoughtfullness I believe is needed more than ever in our world today. Too many times throughout the day I encounter people who are more interested in their point of view, of getting ahead, of being less than gracious yet wanting others to treat them far differently then they are willing to treat others. It’s a sad but true fact and in truth not isolated to American society or even any specific time. Some people have inherently been more self-centered. So with this in mind, I wanted to sketch out some practices as a reminder to myself and ideas for you, dear readers, that will make your day and encounters with others hopefully a happier and more uplifting experience.
What do I mean by thoughtfulness? Thoughtfulness means spending time putting yourself in other people’s shoes in other words, practicing empathy. It also means considering what is in the best interests of others. It means doing things make others feel good even on a small scale. You may be asking what’s in this whole idea for you? There are a lot of benefits first and foremost is the satisfaction of knowing you’re making the world a kinder place, a more thoughtful place and really isn’t that a world you’d rather live in? So without any delay here is a list of some daily practices you can incorporate into your life to practice Thoughtfullness on a regular basis.
1. Do Things you don’t want to do
As I mentioned before practicing thoughtfulness means doing those things you may not want to do. Some examples are going along with a spouse, friend whoever to that event you’d rather not go to, and here’s the key, not say anything, no complaining. Go looking with the expectation that you will get something good out of the experience. There are countless opportunities to do those things for friends, loved ones, your spouse that you don’t want to do. Trust me, not saying anything and just doing will bring a sense of satisfaction and really put you in touch with your feelings of love.
2. Keep a list of Gift ideas
One of the things I’ve always done since I was young was to make a mental note of those things people would say they want throughout the year. As I got older, I made an actual list so that I always had ideas for the perfect present. It could be for a birthday, Xmas or some other holiday or it could be just because someone I loved was going through a difficult time. It doesn’t have always be big ticket items either. Just as an example, a friend of mine mentioned in passing that she needed a magnifying mirror. I put it on my list with the intention of getting it for her birthday. As it turned out she was going through a difficult time, and I wanted to make her feel better, so I picked it up and gave it to her as a random gift. It cost maybe 15 dollars. It lifted her up and made her feel love at a time when she needed it.
3. Send RTOL (Random Texts of Love)
Another practice that you may already be doing is whenever someone you love or care about passes through your thoughts, send them a text and let them know you’re thinking of them. Take the opportunity to reach out and make that connection. Let them know that someone is thinking of them. I know when I get texts like this, it makes me feel pretty awesome.
4. Dates dates dates
This one is in the same spirit as practice number 2. It’s a lot easier these days to keep track of other peoples special days. It could be their birthday or anniversaries. It could be the date you became friends, or some significant event happened in their life, like their kids birthdays. Use that opportunity to reach, say Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary. How fantastic do you feel on your Birthday when you get random Facebook friends wishing you a Happy Birthday? You can make someones day by this very simple practice.
5. Practice intentional listening
This is a biggie and one I actively work on. First, What is Intentional Listening? It is putting down all outside distractions, the phone, the computer, any outside source that will keep you from REALLY listening to what the person your talk with is saying. It means listening to hear the other person, not listening to answer or put in your two cents. An actively engaged conversation is two or more people really listening to what the other people are saying. I like to think of this as listening with your heart AND your head. It makes all the difference, and people do pick up on this.
6. Build personal rituals with the ones you love
Creating special places, times of the year, days are all part of creating personal rituals. Just as an example, my husband and I since we first met have always gone to Disneyland on Christmas day, only the two of us. It’s become a really special thing we do with each other and created a deeper bond between us. You can create simple rituals like hanging out with a group of friends from work at the same place every week. Try this, it will create even more solid bonds and feelings of love with those you care about.
7. Be there for others when they need it
We all live busy lives, some of us live ridiculously busy lives (that’s probably another article). Ultimately we all have times in our lives where we need the support of others. Sometimes even just their physical presence can bring a sense of comfort and healing to a difficult situation. Showing up even when your life is busy is probably one of the best things you can do when others need you.
So there you have it. Making the world a happier place doesn’t have to be difficult. Most of us aren’t Mother Theresa, but we can do things that make just as significant an impact on those we are Blessed to have in our life. Let me know what thoughtfullness practices you know that I haven’t mentioned here. Together we can make the world a better place.