Thursday

5 Ways to Become More Thoughtful

I hope you have a thoughtful person in your life.

I have several. My sister is very thoughtful. One of our family members recently completed cancer treatment that involved daily visits to the treatment center for more than nine weeks. When I took my last "turn" at the 90-mile round trip, my first thoughts were, "Boy, I'm glad that's over. I'm so glad the treatment was successful." When she took her last turn, her first thoughts were, "Boy, I'm glad that's over. Let's celebrate!"

It's the difference between being the first-born and being the baby, I suspect.


I finished the trip with a sigh of relief and a recap of the doctor's final comments. She finished with hugs, balloons, and a celebratory cake. Thoughtfulness comes easier for her. I have to work at it.


My friend Heather is another thoughtful person. We've been friends for over thirty years, and I think she's sent me a birthday card almost every year since we graduated from dental hygiene school together. I, on the other hand, consistently remember her birthday one month too late (when I open her birthday card to me), and am too embarrassed to send a card in return. Thoughtfulness comes easier to her. I have to work at it.


But I want to be a thoughtful person, because thoughtful people are wonderful. They attract friends like the ice cream man attracts children, and they leave smiles behind like confetti after a parade.


As I pondered the virtue of thoughtfulness, I thought of five simple steps we can take to become  more thoughtful people:


1. Be other-focused instead of self-focused. Philippians 2:4 says it this way, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Sometimes the most thoughtful thing we can do for a person is to slow down long enough to listen with our full attention.


2. Be observant. Notice what others enjoy and make surreptitious notes for future reference. When the time is right, surprise them with a small gift. On my last birthday, Heather remembered that lavender is one of my favorite colors, so she gave me two lavender candles for my next romantic dinner.


3. Utilize technology. If you can't remember someone's birthday or anniversary until it's too late (note to self here), plug it into your i-Phone, Outlook desktop calendar, or  birthday notifications on Facebook.


4. Be intentional. Purpose to do one thoughtful thing every day, then pray and ask God to make you aware of someone who needs such a gesture. It can be something as simple as jotting an encouraging note to a friend, posting a favorite verse on someone's Facebook wall, or sending a text message to someone for whom you've been praying.


5. Start small.  I suspect when my friend Heather mailed that first birthday card, she didn't plan to be sending cards 30 years later. Instead, I think she listened to the Holy Spirit's prompt that day and obeyed. Three decades later, she has sown a legacy of thoughtfulness that continues to bless and inspire me.


What about you? Does thoughtfulness come easily or do you have to work at it? Either way, I encourage you to invite God into your life to help you become a more thoughtful person.




“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life






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17 comments:

  1. Technology is my biggest ally in remembering to be thoughtful! I would forget all birthdays without it!

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  2. Technology is a great tool, but we have to USE it-- that's my problem. I'm still hoping they'll invent the Post It note that sticks to human skin! :)

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  3. Great list. I struggle with recognizing opportunities sometimes. I think that's when being intentional becomes so important for me.

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    1. Me too, Jenni. I am always very SELF aware, but have to try really hard to be OTHER aware. . . sigh. . . I"m glad the Holy Spirit is there to prompt us! Thanks for visiting.

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  4. Hello! Stopping by from Titus2Tuesday – I’m loving this post! These are some great tips - I imagine we all struggle, so it's good to have a reminder now and again. :) I hope you’ll come visit me at jugglingactmama.blogspot.com

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    1. Ang, the most encouraging thing about everyone's responses is the simple fact that no one has "arrived" yet. We're all a work in progress. As long as we're moving forward, I think the Lord is pleased :). Thanks so much for visiting.

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  5. I love this post, I also have to work at being thoughtful and I usually decide to take things on in too big a way then fail. Such as last year I resolved to send everyone I know a birthday card that year. I bought them all in advance, filled them out, addressed the envelopes and thought for sure I would make it. However just the other day when moving I discovered the box still up in the closet. Maybe I need to start smaller and ask the Lord how and to whom he wants me to be thoughtful.

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    1. Oh, Cara, your response makes me smile and worry at the same time. When I wrote this post, I had plans to make up for the 30 years of neglect all at once, but now I'm afraid it is too lofty a goal! Maybe we should keep each other accountable :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  6. I do not consider myself a thoughtful person, but I'm trying to work on being more observant and making notes when someone tells me something he/she likes. It really helps when I go to buy a birthday or Christmas gift. That way I'm not just buying something I think s/he will like.

    Thanks for the encouragement to be more thoughtful.

    Visiting from Hearts & Home.

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    1. Hi Keri,
      As a mother of two young adult girls that are challenging to buy for, I've taken to buying gifts I think they'd like when I see them. Then I squirrel the gifts away for a birthday or Christmas. The real trick is remembering where I squirreled them! Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  7. Awesome tips on how to be more thoughtful! It can be hard at times and I love each of your tips, especially being more intentional and using technology to help!

    www.gratefulwithtwo.com

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    1. Yes, Elisha, as much as I still prefer my paper calendar that hangs on the wall, it doesn't remind me with a tone, flashing symbols, and an electronic stickie note like my computer does :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing this. I try to jot down thoughtful gift ideas for loved ones' bdays whenever they mention they like something throughout the course of conversation. That's my best "tip" for being thoughtful, but I LOVE yours. I need to focus more on the everyday thoughtfulness. Found you from Pieces of Amy.

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    1. Jelli, you are absolutely right -- if we don't "capture" that great idea when it comes across our radar, it's gone forever, and we're left thinking later, "Now what was it my mother-in-law said she'd love to have. . .?" Carpe Diem! Thanks for visiting :)

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  10. Great post, Lori. I know why it was featured on Cornerstone Confessions. Really motivating ideas with Scripture to guide and encourage us. I want to put these ideas into practice. Thanks, Gail

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