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We’ve all had someone in our life who makes us feel unexpectedly special. Perhaps it was the co-worker who wrote you a card on your child’s first day of kindergarten or the casual friend who remembered to ask how your sick parent was doing.

When we think about the small acts of kindness that have been bestowed upon us, it’s only natural to want to pay it forward. Being thoughtful seems easy but, in reality, it often takes a backseat to living our everyday lives. Somewhere between packing lunch every morning, running errands all day, and paying bills all evening, we miss out on opportunities to help the people in our lives feel special and cared for.

Luckily, just like most things in life, being thoughtful is skill that we can practice and develop. Check out the tips below to help you turn thoughtful intentions into thoughtful acts.

1 | Keep blank note cards on hand

How many times have you neglected to send a thank you card, a birthday card, or a sympathy card just because you forgot to swing by store to buy one? Make writing that special note easier by keeping a stationary set with a variety of cards on hand. It’s far simpler to grab a blank note card on the way out the door to pick up your child than it is to go to the store and try to find something “just right” when you’re already in a rush.

2 | Pick up a few small gift cards next time you grab coffee

Sometimes the people in our life need a pick-me-up and, while it won’t change whatever is bringing them down, a cup of coffee is a gesture that shows them that you care. Whether you want to cheer up a friend whose baby just won’t sleep through the night or thank someone for going above and beyond, make it easy by keeping a stack of small gift cards on hand.

3 | Plug important dates into your calendar right away

Never let important dates – like your friend’s due date or your niece’s preschool graduation –  sneak up on you again. As soon as you hear a date or receive an invitation, set a reminder on your phone for the day of and for a few days before in case you want to call to check in or send a sweet package.

4 | Commit to listening

When someone is going through a tough time, what they often need most is a listening ear. Commit to stopping by their office, taking them out for a drink or having them over for an easygoing brunch and really hearing them when they talk about what’s going on. Refrain from giving advice, sharing stories from your own life that might relate, or trying to cheer them up. Instead, listen, ask questions and let them know that you’ll be there no matter what.

5 | Remember to rave about them

Nothing makes some feel quite as special as hearing that others are talking positively behind their back. Whenever someone you know comes up in conversation be sure to share something wonderful about them. Once you start integrating kind acts and thoughtful deeds into your everyday life they’ll become so natural you won’t even notice them. The people around you though, they’ll notice just how great you make them feel!

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