Our challenge is to behave with grace, without having to think about it, even during our busiest days.
As is the case for many words in the English language, a word can have many meanings. For instance, “grace” can be used in many ways. As a noun, it can mean moving with beauty or charm. In Greek mythology, there were three goddesses, known as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispensed charm and beauty. Clearly a skill that would be sought after by many, and if offered on Amazon Prime, would be a frequent purchase. Many may think in the spiritual term, where “grace” refers to a short prayer of thanksgiving said before or after a meal. Another use is by those who are empowered by royalty or nobility where “grace” can be used to address individuals who have titles such as king, queen, or duke.
Grace, more importantly, is the attribute of being helpful, generous, and of goodwill. An act or instance of kindness or courtesy that is done without being asked to do so, is an example of grace. Much is said today regarding a general lack of civility in our daily lives. For some reason, social media and prominent public figures are celebrated for behavior that previously would not be accepted. Obviously, we can become desensitized to the behavior and begin to find it acceptable, or we chart a new path.
Grace can mean acceptance and giving. Behaving with grace in a situation means performing in a manner without expecting to receive anything in return. It is dependent on the generosity of the giver and not the recipient in terms of need or deservedness. It is goodwill being given for no other reason than to improve the situation or condition being faced by another.
This may remind you of the 2000 movie “Pay It Forward,” where a young student did a favor for three strangers in the hope that they each would perform a similar act for three others. Sometime in the past, each of us have been the recipient of what has sometimes been termed as “random acts of kindness.” An example of this would be where the person in front of you at Starbucks tells the cashier to include the payment of your order with theirs. Unexpected and unnecessary but a tug on the heartstrings that a stranger would grace us with generosity.
The obvious challenge for all of us is to behave with grace, without thinking, during our busy days. What would it take to look at our interactions with colleagues, friends, and family and be thoughtful about our responses to include goodwill? A step further would be to use that same lens of grace when dealing with individuals who we aren’t familiar with but happen to run into.
The opportunities for grace are endless. Stopped in traffic and letting someone merge, giving directions to the couple staring at the hospital directory obviously confused about where to go, and anywhere else that allows you to step back and let someone go before you in line. How many times have you had a few things in your hand at the grocery store and a person with a full cart tells you to go ahead. Small acts of grace that are unasked for but appreciated.
These are but a few examples. Feel free to send me yours (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I promise to share, because your grace will make a difference for all of us.
I appreciate you.