NEW YORK — The average American does about 25,000 thoughtful acts in their lifetime, new research suggests. A recent survey of 2,000 respondents shows that people perform about six meaningful gestures a week, or 312 over the course of a year.
Eight in 10 also try to pay it forward when someone does something thoughtful for them. Fifty-eight percent have reciprocated an introduction they received to a friend or a date. Another 52 percent have returned the favor to a classmate who helped them study in school.
It’s the thoughtfulness that counts
People shared the most thoughtful gestures they’ve ever received from others, such as “taking care of my dog when I was in the hospital [despite their] allergies,” or “a customer in front of me paying for my food in the drive-thru,” and getting “gifts from my kids.”
When asked how they show thoughtfulness to others, most say they send them a birthday greeting or present (55%), listen to them (54%), or give them a compliment (54%). In fact, eight in 10 always try to remember to do something nice for their loved ones on their birthday.
Learning to stay positive
Unfortunately, two-thirds admit it can sometimes be difficult to sustain thoughtfulness or gratitude throughout the year. Three-fifths say negative emotions at times overpower positive ones, and more than half worry they don’t have enough time for more thoughtful actions.
However, two-thirds add that practicing gratitude has made them more compassionate to others. More than seven in 10 (72%) plan to become a better friend in 2022. Sixty-six percent will accomplish this by giving more compliments, while 52 percent will use more polite language, and 52 percent aim to set aside their phone during conversations.
“Just being mindful of the people around you can make a difference,” says a spokesperson for SmashUps by American Greetings in a statement. “This study suggests that seemingly small gestures, such as watering someone’s plants while they’re away or baking for them, can also encourage the giver to be more empathetic.”
Some respondents have also displayed thoughtfulness by covering others’ expenses, spending an average of $300 to cover their meals or bills. When it comes to gifts, eight in 10 note they take time finding the perfect present for a loved one, with 35 percent devoting an hour or more.
Another 83 percent say when others remember their birthday, it makes them feel loved and appreciated.
“Birthdays may come once a year, but they’re also a more personal occasion, so it makes sense that most people feel appreciated when others remember their special day,” the spokesperson adds. “Even the smallest gift can be incredibly meaningful if it’s clear to the recipient that you put thought into it.”