The Importance of Being Gracious

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When was the last time you received a handwritten thank-you note? When was the last time that someone went out of his or her way to help you? When was the last time that a stranger brightened your day?

Chances are, these memories stand out pretty vividly in your mind, because politeness has become so rare. Many of us tend to get too swept up in our own affairs to devote much energy to the wellbeing of others. We are even taken aback by small acts of kindness, half-smiling while wondering what the catch could possibly be.Even more upsetting than this reluctance though, is the resigned acknowledgment of our reluctance. We know that we are not alone in feeling this way. We know that we would like for everyone to be nice to us. We know that even the smallest negative interaction can become toxic.

What we don’t know, or perhaps what we don’t want to know, is that we are just as guilty as the elusive “everyone.”

When was the last time you wrote a handwritten thank-you note? When was the last time that you went out of your way to help someone? When was the last time you brightened a stranger’s day?

We like to think of ourselves as nice and friendly people, but perception is reality. How do you show others that you care?

Rather than wishing that other people would be nicer to you, focus on what you can do to be more polite, kind, and generous. Much more often than not, people will reciprocate what you are willing to give—it starts with you.

During the Holiday Season, many of us reflect upon what we are thankful for in life—our families, our friendships, our careers, our circumstances—but this year, I want to take it a bit further by adopting a personal goal, and I encourage you to do the same:

I will strive to be someone whom others are thankful to know.

Before we can help others, we must first acknowledge the importance of being gracious. We must genuinely want to devote our time, resources, and energy to matters that do not directly affect us. We must choose to put ourselves second at times. We must make a conscious effort to change.

Be the coworker who accepts inconvenient requests with a smile. Be the friend who answers the phone to talk, even when it’s not the best time. Be the stranger who holds the door for someone else. Be the boss who offers encouragement and understanding. Be the husband who sends flowers just because. Be the mother who supports her children no matter what.

Be someone whom others are thankful to know.

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