Unfortunately, people focus so much attention on things that matter to them — like sexuality, diet, exercise, the clothes they wear or their politics — that they tend to run out of time to be thoughtful. Yes, these topics are important, but what if you increased by just a small amount the practice of being thoughtful? What if you made a concerted effort to practice being more interested (and interesting) than you are?
If you're interested in others, or want to improve your thoughtfulness towards your family, friends and strangers, here are 9 steps you can take, starting today:
1. When someone tells you that he's not feeling well, make a note in your calendar to ask him how he's feeling the following week.
2. Buy a small present for someone, for no reason at all.
3. When a colleague is sick or has lost a loved one, send flowers to them even if you don't know the person very well.
4. Perform a task for someone in your life that they usually do.
5. Ask someone you've been putting off for a while out to lunch or dinner.
6. Endorse someone on a social network site and help others understand just how valuable that person is to you.
7. If someone tells you something about her child/children experiencing a problem, can you act as a resource in any way?
8. Be genuinely interested in others. Save your fascinating life stories for later. Take the time to listen with intention and purpose.
9. Say, “That’s very thoughtful of you” to others when they are. Increasing your awareness of the thoughtfulness of others can also help you understand other steps to take.
The caveat for these 9 action steps, of course, is to leave yourself out of the conversation. Remember, being thoughtful is far more interesting than anything else about you.
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