I love flowers. In fact, as I pause to contemplate my next words to you, I see my beautiful deep red wild flowers in the vase across the room and cannot help but smile. When I was in my twenties, I had this boyfriend who sent me flowers every month. I remember thinking he was the most thoughtful person I ever met. But when the relationship ended and the flowers kept coming, I knew something was off. So I questioned him and he confessed that he had bought me a membership to a flower-of-the-month club. He went on to explain he didn’t want to forget to be thoughtful. I still laugh when I think of that reasoning—smart enough to realize his inability to be consistently thoughtful, but still thoughtful enough to create a plan. So maybe this wasn’t the perfect answer, but he was onto something: intentional thoughtfulness. And that’s something I’ve incorporated into my life to enhance my connections to others (and in doing so, enhance my overall well-being). It may be just the boost you need too.
“Thoughtful” is defined as having or showing consideration for the well-being, contentment, or happiness of others and a propensity for anticipating their needs, wishes, or wants. To be thoughtful is to be present, conscious of our actions, committed to tapping into the thoughts and feelings of those around us, and understanding how our lives are all intertwined. Thoughtfulness is a behavior; and some people are more thoughtful than others. But anyone can be thoughtful, because this is a learned behavior that can be cultivated into a habit. And just like any other behavior, it can take time to integrate it into our lives until it becomes a seamless and inherent part of our selves. So, there is a learning curve.
And that’s why I love the flower-of-the-month club! Without knowing how to develop his thoughtfulness skills, my boyfriend acknowledged his lack of understanding of how to tackle that learning curve and did his best to be thoughtful and anticipate my needs. He saw an opportunity and took action. For that, I forever give him credit. And years later I know that his action was a promising start for a person who wanted to convey thoughtfulness. But the foundation was already there.
Cultivating thoughtfulness doesn’t necessarily mean subscribing to a flower-of-the-month club or buying anything at all. Yes, thoughtfulness implies giving, but it doesn’t necessarily mean giving material gifts. Giving can take many forms—a card, a shoulder to cry on, or quite simply, your time. I’ve read psychologists call these “nourishing behaviors” because they nourish your relationships. But at its roots, thoughtfulness starts with the simple but underrated skill of listening. Listening helps us better understand those around us and anticipate their needs.
Last week I challenged you to drink more water to make your body function with greater ease. This week I encourage you to listen to others. You will soon see new opportunities to demonstrate thoughtfulness to those around you. When you see those opportunities, take action. Sure, you can take a page out of my boyfriend’s playbook and gift a flower, wine, cheese, candy of the month club, whatever. Maybe the appropriate action is to commit to writing a supportive email or note to someone who’s on your mind. Thoughtfulness is an amazing thing, because it connects us all and increases our awareness of the world around us—it makes us more alive. Selfishly, being aware of someone else’s needs can also help minimize our own problems and worries!
At the end of each day, stop and consider what bloomed from your thoughtfulness. By planting flowers for others, you’ll come to find out you’ve planted your own garden as well.
Make A Change Today,