Thoughtfulness – A Gateway Drug (Part 2)
Yesterday we explored the two-sidedness of thoughtfulness – the internal action and its external manifestation. If you didn’t get a chance to review it, check it out here.
As promised at the end of yesterday’s article, today we will explore methods to implement a thoughtfulness practice into your everyday life.
“There is no greater evil than men’s failure to consult and to consider.” – Sophocles
They say curiosity killed the cat, but I see way too many stray cats to believe that. It’s what keeps them alive and will do the same for us. So how can we implement an internal thoughtfulness practice? Here are a few ideas:
YOGA! Yes, I said it. For the past two weeks (which is a lot for me), I’ve been stepping onto my mat every single day. By taking 30 minutes out of each day to stop, breath and connect, we then create space in our busy minds to think. For me, this allows me to turn off the to-do lists, my personal expectations of myself, and my too-often negative self talk and really focus on flowing and breathing. By learning to breath more deeply and appreciate stillness, we can translate that into a thoughtfulness practice. So this weekend, let’s challenge ourselves to practice yoga. Let’s get out and attend a yoga class in our community or stay home and try this one (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA89vRR7rjA)
LISTEN! Take a minute to listen to our responses. When someone says (or posts) something that differs from our opinions, let’s take a moment to listen to our internal response.
ASK QUESTIONS! Once we are able to hear our internal response, let’s ask ourselves WHY? Why did I respond that way? Why do I think that? Is my response rooted in truth or opinion? If it’s merely opinion, why haven’t I sought truth?
SEEK THE TRUTH! If we don’t have answers to our “why” questions, let’s find out the answers. This often manifests itself in reading. READ ALL THE TIME. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. This is where our norm is challenged. And let’s not just read books that match our opinions. Let’s read something new, something that makes us uncomfortable with what we’ve always believed, for here we find truth.
Let’s infuse our weekend with this practice of training our bodies to be still, listening to our internal voice, asking why we believe what we believe and seeking the truth to our questions.
We won’t stop there, though, will we? NOOOOO! What’s the point of this renewal to thought if we don’t put our truths into action?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead
Here are some easy ways we can show people thoughtfulness and hopefully change the world one thoughtful act at a time:
OPEN THE DOOR! Yes, it’s as simple as that. Open the door for someone, look that person in the eye and say “hello” with a big-ole cheesy grin on our face. People may question our happiness, but, hey, we’re practicing thoughtfulness. And if they ask, we can grow our group of truth-seekers. Anyway, people just want to be seen and heard; I know I do! Let’s give that to our fellow humans!! I’m sure we’ll all be surprised with the results!
VOLUNTEER! So many nonprofits exist that are thirsty for people to connect and donate their time. Find a cause that speaks to your heart! Is it the environment? Refugees? Mentoring? Literacy? Homelessness? Hunger? Clean drinking water? Not only will we be engaging with other people that are thoughtful about the world around them, we’ll be in an environment where we can learn and expand our knowledge-base. Better yet, let’s pick a project we question, and make ourselves volunteer. Afraid refugees just come to America to harm us? Don’t believe in global warming? Then volunteer with the refugee community or an environmental nonprofit and maybe we’ll gain new knowledge and learn about someone else’s experience, which can inform our mode of thinking in the future.
ENGAGE! Put those phones down! Stop those neck wrinkles from growing deeper and connect with people. Whether it’s our significant other, the person sitting next to us on the bus or our barista, let’s ask them about their day, look them in the eye, and connect with their souls.
BE INCONVENIENCED! Don’t want to do the dishes for our partner? Don’t want to stay an hour later to help our coworker with a project? Don’t want to be the designated driver this weekend? Then DO IT! By saying no to the things we want, we then are able to experience something different and better. We stretch ourselves, practice empathy and grow.
Thank you for traveling on this journey with me as we fight the good fight and implement thoughtfulness into our souls. Let’s grapple together, let’s practice empathy and standing up for what is right. Do any of these actions resonate with you? Please let me know and share your journey with me as we roam the truthfulness terrain.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Swanson