The holidays have really made me think about the importance of grace in our lives. Not the prayer that we say before a meal, but being a more gracious person who shows kindness and understanding to others. The lack of which can certainly be seen in traffic, crowded department stores, or even in our workplace or homes. It is a quality that is sometimes lost in the hustle and bustle of every day modern living.
What happened to this way of being that was once so prevalent in our culture?
When cut off in traffic we instantly flush with anger or contempt rather than assuming the other driver misjudged our speed, failed to look both ways, or simply had a brain fart. A gracious person would simply regard the incident as human error and provide a little extra space for them. Sure we still generally use good manners like holding doors for others and using the magic words such as please and thank you, but truly gracious behavior seems to be going out of fashion with the “me first” entitlement mentality.
How can we practice a more gracious lifestyle?
I think it starts with the acceptance that we are all created equal and that nobody is without flaws. We all make mistakes. No matter how hard we chase after perfection, we all fall short. Being gracious is about recognizing this and being flexible in regards to people and circumstances. It isn’t about walking around in rose colored glasses looking for the good in everyone or becoming a giant pushover. It is simply deciding that the inconsiderate actions of others are not worth disrupting our positive flow of energy.
We can practice a more gracious lifestyle in a proactive way as well. Showing kindness, respect, gratitude and restraint are all qualities that a gracious person should embrace on a daily basis.
For the next week, hold yourself accountable. Ask yourself how you were kind today. What were you grateful for? How could you have been more respectful or shown more restraint? When we focus on the qualities we wish to demonstrate in our lives in such a way, it starts to become part of our who we are.
Don’t get discouraged if you slip and give someone the bird on the freeway. Be gracious with yourself and move on. Just take notice of the behavior and try to do better next time. It is a process that takes practice and a fair amount of patience. When you start making a conscious effort you will notice it gets easier with time. You may also notice a shift in how others treat you in return.
Do you have any tips for living a more gracious life? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.