Thoughtfulness is one of many positive human traits. It enables us to strengthen relationships and live more meaningfully alongside others. And although the act of being thoughtful is rooted in doing things for others, it has the surprising gift of being amazingly good for our own health too.
It is sometimes extremely easy for our levels of thoughtfulness to slip a little bit. Or it might be that you feel you are not as instinctively thoughtful as other people. But it is something we can work on and become better at. And looking at the benefits, it is certainly worthwhile doing so.
This article aims to discuss what being thoughtful means, the benefits of being thoughtful, and some tips to help you be a little more thoughtful in life.
What does being thoughtful mean?
There are many definitions out there to describe what it means to be thoughtful. Pretty much every definition of it mentions kindness in some form. This particular definition describes thoughtful as being ‘kind and always thinking about how you can help other people.’
Additional research looked at the semantic analysis of different positive character traits. This research describes the meaning of thoughtfulness as ‘…some kind of thinking about another before one acts’.
When we are being thoughtful it also means we are showing other positive qualities towards others such as:
But what makes being thoughtful distinctive from other positive traits, is that it means more than just being nice to someone. Arguably, anyone can be nice on a surface level. But being thoughtful goes a lot deeper.
If you think about it, the very act of being thoughtful means someone has to actively notice people around them, reflect on situations and pay attention to others’ needs. And then they are choosing to respond in a loving and kind way to someone else.
I have a fantastic friend who used to be my colleague at work. And everything she did was extremely thoughtful! She always thought of others before herself and quite honestly, I was in awe of her.
So how thoughtful do you think you are? Does it come naturally to you?
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What are the benefits of being thoughtful?
The obvious benefits of being thoughtful are the fact that we can improve our existing and new relationships. Because being thoughtful simply means we are showing that we care.
And for both relationships and friendships to work, this is a particularly important thing to show.
Being thoughtful can also really impact us personally. Interestingly, there is a term coined ‘helpers high’ which explains how helping others makes us feel better and improves our physical and mental health.
The ‘high’ element of the phrase refers to the dopamine rush we experience when we are kind, which is a hormone strongly associated with happiness.
When we are thoughtful towards others the hormone oxytocin is also released in the body. This is known to reduce blood pressure and inflammation, both of which can contribute to serious health conditions.
The production of oxytocin has also been linked to increasing trust in humans. Again, this highlights the positive impact of thoughtfulness in promoting quality social interactions.
Not only that, but these acts of kindness can boost levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful chemical that is responsible for mood regulation, memory, brain function, and general well-being.
These all seem incredible benefits from just some small, simple acts. And do you ever notice thoughtful people as being unhappy?
I understand this is a complete generalization, but I genuinely believe it must be hard to be unhappy in life if you are thoughtful. Especially when you are continually boosting your body with those feel-good hormones and chemicals.
6 ways to be more thoughtful in life
Read on to find some ways in which you can incorporate a little more thoughtfulness into your life. So, you can start to enjoy better relationships with others and improve your well-being.
1. Take time to listen to others
Sometimes, just listening and giving someone our undivided attention can show a lot of thoughtfulness. I know when someone is listening to what I have to say, it shows they care and that they are concerned in some way.
We are all a little guilty at times of tuning out to others, but it is so important to improve in this area. Listening well also means you pick up on those small bits of information which later down the line can be used in a gesture of kindness.
The other day my daughter received a parcel in the post. As she is only one year old, I opened it for her, and it was an inflatable beach ball. I was racking my brains to think of who sent it. And eventually, I remembered a conversation I had with one of my good friends during a playdate around a week before.
I found that so thoughtful, as she showed she really listened to what I was saying (even if it was a tiny, insignificant piece of information).
2. Try to show small acts of kindness
As I am writing this, my neighbor knocked on my door and offered me an extra fan (we currently have unprecedented hot weather in the UK).
And I thought, how lovely!? Those small acts of kindness bring so much joy to others. It made me feel so happy knowing someone had given the time to think about me.
They are actually our new neighbors, and we have been helping them with bits around their house. And already in a few weeks, a solid friendship is forming.
These gestures don’t need to be grand or fancy. The smaller things that show you have considered someone’s needs can be just as powerful.
3. Consider giving meaningful compliments
Compliments can be a wonderful way of being thoughtful. Especially if they are done in a meaningful way. A flippant ‘your hair looks nice today’ is still nice to hear of course!
But a compliment that shows you have thought about someone’s needs goes a long way. For example: ‘I think you did amazing today, I know that couldn’t have been easy for you.’
And if you are giving a compliment, really try and mean it. Not only can people sometimes see through a lack of genuineness, but it means so much more to that other person when there is some real thought behind it.
Remember that thoughtfulness is more than just being nice for the sake of it.
4. Show your gratitude and thankfulness
When was the last time you sent a handwritten thank you card? Sending some form of thanks to friends and family for something you have received shows your appreciation and thoughtfulness.
When I was younger, I still remember (to this day!) sending a card to my grandma every year to say thank you for my Christmas presents! And I know she loved receiving them. Again, not only is it kind but it shows you care.
5. Try and remember important dates
Although it is important to show thoughtfulness on a day-to-day basis, there are some important dates of the year which should take priority too! If you are someone who forgets things easily, try and make a note of them somewhere to refer to.
These important dates might not just be the usual birthdays, christenings, and weddings, but they might be the date of your friend’s operation or the date they are moving home. And with so much going on in our lives, it is almost impossible to remember all these key events.
But showing you remember these important times in other people’s lives, and you have taken the time to think of them, shows a real level of thought and consideration.
6. Consider slowing down
When we rush around everywhere all the time, we don’t leave any room to reflect.
And to be thoughtful requires quiet times of reflection. It means you have time to step back and recognize what others may need.
It reminds me of when I hear about people’s relationships ending because they are far too busy for each other. When you start to slow down, you can notice more, and take everything in. This allows for thoughtfulness to naturally present itself.
When I have a busy week, I always really recognize my levels of thoughtfulness slip. I am rushing around like a madwoman not leaving time to think about anything else outside my remit.
Do you ever feel the same?
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Being thoughtful goes far deeper than just being nice to someone. It means we are taking the time out of our lives to think about others. Not only does being thoughtful help us to maintain positive relationships with others, but it can give our bodies a much-needed boost of feel-good chemicals and hormones. Being thoughtful can truly give our lives meaning and help us to feel better about the world around us.
When was your last thoughtful act of kindness? What’s your favorite way to show your thoughtfulness to others? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!