There are two ways to be thoughtful: first, there is the prevailing view in which being thoughtful is merely being kind.
It’s holding the door for a stranger.
It’s flashing a brief smile when you walk past someone.
It’s offering a compliment.
It’s sharing what you have, expecting nothing in return.
It’s giving someone a discount.
It’s the card and flower routine you employ every valentines day or birthday.
However, these acts are passive, stemming largely from our subconscious rather than from intentionality.
The problem with the prevailing view of thoughtfulness is that it doesn’t scale. There are no network effects. No platform exists for the foundation of our actions.
Instead of merely being thoughtful, we each have the choice to be generously thoughtful.
Being generously thoughtful is acting with intentionality and openness.
Being generously thoughtful creates trust.
It creates a platform for each of us to scale our actions, providing benefits to both people, over and over again.
However, being generously thoughtful also requires trust, which is why so few of us go down the path of acting with generous thoughtfulness.
To earn one’s trust is time-consuming.
To earn one’s trust can be draining.
It requires vulnerability.
It takes emotional labor.
However, the emotional costs of being generously thoughtful pale in comparison to its impact.
Each of us longs to connect and be members of generously thoughtful communities.
Being generously thoughtful is self-reinforcing.
It is useful at a large scale.
It is valuable in nearly every circumstance — in every location, with every human being.
Being generously thoughtful lowers the transaction cost of connecting with one another, allowing us to redirect our energy towards collectively satisfying our higher order human needs.
It allows us to redirect our energy toward living with empathy and vulnerability, which fosters a deeper sense of love and belonginess in our lives.
It gives us the capacity to cultivate self-esteem, freeing us to worry less about what others think of us.
It gives us the capacity to achieve self-actualization in our lives, experiencing the world totally for what it is and finding a meaning to life that is important to each of us individually.
The excess capacity created by being generously thoughtful nurtures both the part and the whole.
The part, in that it frees us to individually explore who we are and what is important to us.
The whole, in that it makes it easier for us to connect, as through self-exploration we each cultivate the capacity for transcendence, or the desire to help others achieve self-actualization.
The value of being generously thoughtful rises with the scale of participation in our community.
In the prevailing view, being thoughtful is more of an action, focused on one person.
Being generously thoughtful is a state of being, not directed at any one person, but at our culture at large.