Stop thoughtlessly undercutting thoughtfulness.

At a recent Thanksgiving, my thoughtful friend, who always hosts dinner, outdid herself. There were almost twenty-five guests, including several kids. Not only did she organize games for the kids, but she also gifted them personalized mugs with their names stenciled on them. Then, to ensure they could use their mugs right away, she set up a hot chocolate and marshmallows counter for them (no mean feat in her small space). The kids loved it. 

One of the mothers wondered aloud how my friend could think of all these minute details. “I can barely remember to feed my kid,” she said in awe. Her wise husband said, “she’s single and has more time than you.” The other married couples nodded in agreement. How quickly they undercut my friend’s thoughtfulness to their worldview that single equals more free time, and more time equals more thoughtfulness. 

I have another friend who meticulously plans her Christmas shopping so that she can buy gifts for her large circle of friends. No one is forgotten, and her elephant memory ensures everyone gets the gifts they want; I got a power bank data charger for my constantly out-of-charge phone. As I marveled aloud at my friend’s supremely thoughtful gift-giving, another friend remarked, “maybe she didn’t grow up getting a lot of gifts on Christmas and is making up for it now.” 

Although my workplace is medium-sized, many colleagues from other departments barely show any signs of recognition when you walk past them, even if you have met them many times. After one such instance, I angrily remarked to my friend, “how can you forget someone after meeting them so many times?” He calmed me down by saying, “we are losers who have all the time to remember people; others have too much going on in their lives.” 

Why is thoughtfulness a function of free time than being good? That is why I am effusive in my thanks when young men or women completely wrapped up with their lovers still remember to hold the door for you. They disprove the theory that free time equals thoughtfulness. So does the store manager, who, despite being perched atop a ladder stacking stuff, still noticed I was looking for something and came down to help.      

It is time to celebrate thoughtfulness as the healthy heartbeat of humanity than as an affliction.

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