Appreciating Others... Thoughtfulness Explained

Has the era of thank-you cards escaped us? Ok, I know, technically speaking, I wasn’t born in that era anyway, but nonetheless, what drives us to be thoughtful?

First of all, it is a sign of caring.

Second, it is a sign of empathy; being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. (Or boots, now that winter is here.)

Third, it is respectful.

How to be Thoughtful - for Free:

1. Random Acts of Kindness

Research shows that random acts of kindness are not only beneficial to the receiver of such acts, but that you, the giver, will also feel a surge of positive energy. Random acts of kindness can be as simplistic as giving someone directions (the more accurate, the better!), leaving positive notes in library books for the next reader to find, holding a door open for the next customer in a store, and so on. Being mindful of your acts of kindness, whether they are random or purposeful, will help you to be more thoughtful.

2. Cards/E-Mails/Texts

I love cards. I really do. Texting, not so much. In fact, my family and friends tell me I am the worst person for texting, because I often respond days later when I finally remember that I forgot to text them back. (Which is usually because of a follow-up text, asking if I am still on the planet.) But cards! They are miraculous not only to send, to write, but to create. I love giving cards for different reasons: birthdays, of course, but also special days that you make sure you remember (I write it down in my calendar) such as graduations, a new job, a new addition to a family. And then, there are the “just because” cards. Each month, take the time to write four cards/emails/texts “just because”. That translates into sending one message a week to someone who is in your life that you appreciate. It doesn’t matter which way you send the message, as long as it describes how grateful you are.

3. Speaking in a Thoughtful Manner

• When talking about sensitive issues, tread carefully. Sensitive issues are basically any issues, in which strong emotions might be evoked. (The usual contenders are ethnicity, gender, politics, and weight, but beware that any topic may have potential to offend someone.)

• Take time to pause before speaking. This allows you to give your brain some time to evaluate if your response is going to be helpful or hindering to the person you’re talking to. I’m not saying we should only respond with what the person wants to hear, but sometimes it is reassuring to just say “I hear you” and leave it at that. Feeling misunderstood and unheard are common human emotions that everyone has had at some point in their life, so we may not understand the specific problem someone is having, but we DO understand the feelings associated with this problem and can relate on this level.

• Validate their experience. We all just want to be validated sometimes, meaning that it is okay for us to have certain emotions. Validation can just be saying, “if I had such and such going on, I would feel that way too”. Everyone is allowed to have their own emotions even if they are not what we deem as “appropriate” responses.

• Ask thoughtful questions. Therapists are known to ask “and how do you feel about that?” for a very good reason! Asking how a person is feeling instead of making your own assumptions to how they’re feeling is critical in acting in a thoughtful manner. Other questions you might ask are “how can I help?” and “what would you find helpful?”

• Educate yourself. If your friend is diagnosed with a health condition, then take the time to investigate, so that you are not ignorant of what she is going through. Ignorance often leads to miscommunication and disconnect.

4. Being Grateful For All Acts of Kindness, Big or Small

Noticing when you are feeling grateful from someone’s thoughtfulness will spur you to realize and reflect on what it was exactly that made you feel so cared for, thus inspiring you to be more thoughtful as well. Gratefulness is one emotion that will brighten your day. So, when you’re reflecting on your day, it might be helpful to write three things you were grateful for that day, and you will subsequently notice a positive effect, such as improved mood with this activity.

Showing genuine thankfulness is enough in whatever capacity you choose to express it in.

There is no wrong way to be thoughtful!

At your Service with

Lorraine Sutherland



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