How often do you drink water not out of thirst but because you know that water is good for your body? Do you have a regular habit of eating fruits or do you only eat them when you have an appetite? Do you eat your veggies regularly? Do you have a food curfew or do you not mind swallowing huge mounds of Eba at 11 PM?
When texting people, are you the kind of person who throws a lazy “Hi” at people and sits waiting for them to steer the conversation you started? When a person asks “How are you?” in a text message, do you respond with the good old “Good and you?” 10 times out of 10?
When writing a text message, replying to a post on social media, or writing an email, do you read over it once or twice to correct any possible typos or try to make your message kinder, more concise, humorous, or just easier for the other person to understand without having to think too hard?
When last did you give someone a gift? How much thought did you put into it?
Do you usually think things through before taking action? Do you do things with intention or do you just go with the flow every time?
Are you mindful of your habits? Do you pay attention to the little things that have almost become second nature? How many times do you unlock your smartphone in a day? How many of those unlocks are actually necessary?
When you fall in bed at the end of the day all tired and sleepy, do you take a moment to evaluate the quality of your day? Was it a fulfilling day? Are you tired for the right reasons? Can you account for where every ounce of your energy went?
I believe that being thoughtful is one of the qualities that can greatly enhance the quality of a person’s life. It can literally make you healthier, happier, wiser, and even stronger (mentally and emotionally). It is a very cheap investment that yields enormous rewards. And what is more, when you don’t invest, you not only miss the rewards, but you also set yourself up for a potential loss.
Before we go any further, I want to clarify that when I talk about being thoughtful, I don’t mean simply having the capacity to think — we all can think but not all of us are healthier, happier, wiser, or stronger. I am referring to the much more creative and proactive aspect of thinking.
For example, simply buying a beautifully framed birthday message as a birthday gift to someone is… well, OK. On the other hand, inquiring from close acquaintances of a person for gift ideas for that person, drawing inspiration from your experience knowing that person (their likes, wishes, desires and their dreams for the future), and then proceeding to meticulously package a gift that expresses positive emotions about key aspects of their life and personality, together with a beautiful hand-written note from you to them, I call that thoughtful. Such a gift is more likely to be appreciated and to have a more enduring impression on the person.
So why do we not strive to be more thoughtful even when we know how beneficial it is?
There are more than enough distractions in this modern age. Most of us have not yet even grasped the gravity of the situation. We are practically slaves and the really sad part is we don’t even know it yet. We are so torn in several directions that we don’t even pay attention to the things that really matter.
There is such pressure; such constant excitement; a plethora of avenues for stimulation and instant gratification. As a result, setting aside some time to think has almost become a luxury. And yet thinking is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
When we are not being thoughtful, we go about our day without any plan. And you will notice that most often, even on days when we set out without a plan and fancy a full day of leisure and relaxation, we still find ourselves very busy. Things just rush in seemingly out of nowhere as if conscious of the fact that we are free. And before we know it, it is evening and the day is lost.
When this happens, our priorities become misplaced. Important questions such as the ones asked at the beginning of this article become neglected and forgotten. We don’t eat fruits, we don’t drink water, we don’t read books, we don’t practice healthy hobbies in our pastimes, we don’t build skills, we don’t monitor and restrict our use of social media… the list goes on.
An idle mind is indeed the devil’s workshop. When you abandon your priorities, don’t you think that you will be granted the luxury to relax and have fun. Other more harmful things will take the place of your priorities. When you don’t consciously impose some order in your life, chaos will set in. And it takes a bit of thought to impose that order.
So how do we impose this order in our lives? I can answer this in two words: consistency and rules.
Take some time to identify your priorities. Break down those priorities into actionable steps that you can easily perform. Then practice these steps on a regular schedule. Do it daily or weekly or monthly whatever frequency you choose. Do everything in your power not to skip a session. The goal is to be very consistent to the point where it becomes a habit and you don’t even have to consciously think about it before you do it; you would just be doing it as if it were second nature.
These priorities can be something like this: read every day, workout 2 times a week, publish an article once a week, drink at least 2 liters of water a day, and so on.
The second word is rules. Create strict rules around your priorities and obey those rules as if they were the 10 commandments. The point of these rules is not to restrict you or rob you of your freedom. The rules are only there to guide you. Set healthy rules for yourself and obey those rules. They could be simple rules like never going a day without reading, drinking water, etc.
When you start doing the things that matter, all the other distracting harmful, self-indulgent behavior will just naturally fall away without you expending your willpower to address them directly.