Are You Gracious?

Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center- Photo from Department of Defense

What does it mean to be gracious? Like maturity, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. Here’s a story: I have a friend who worked in information technology at a small company. I worked in the office with the friend and noticed that many older employees would ask the friend to go to their homes to set up new digital tools and gadgets, like streaming services. My friend was very willing to help them. I said to my friend one day: “That’s so nice of you that you help so many people. How do you have time to do it?” He replied: “I don’t have the time to do all of this! But those people help me at work and I like them, so I don’t complain.”

I was shocked by his revelation. He was willing to go above and beyond to help people, and he never complained about it or mentioned it at work. I wondered, do I have the maturity or compassion to help people in this way and not expect something in return? The answer was definitely No. As I age and mature, I desire to become more gracious. Why? Graciousness allows a person to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Let’s define the term.

The blog How to be Gracious has a great definition for the term gracious:

The gracious person is warm, welcoming and always looking for the opportunity to elevate others instead of themselves. Because they are comfortable in their own skin, the gracious person does not constantly engage in self-aggrandizement; they do not feel the need to assert their superiority over others. Instead, they constantly search for opportunities to make those around them as comfortable as possible.

If you are gracious, then your aim should be to make the day of anyone you interact with more pleasant rather than less, even in the most imperceptible ways. No matter how bad a day a person is having, a person does not have the right to make other peoples’ days less pleasant because of it. Personal difficulties are just that – personal. They are not an excuse for being unpleasant with strangers, family and friends.

What this means that a gracious person does not brag around others to make themselves feel better. Instead, they think of ways to make others around them feel better. We’ve all met snobby people who enjoy putting others down or poking fun of others to make themselves feel better. Here’s another gem from How to be Gracious:

Sometimes people use manners and etiquette to make people around them look bad or seem unsophisticated. This is not gracious – it is rudeness and snobbery. When manners harden into formality or a way to elevate oneself at the expense of others, this is not gracious.

Have you been gracious recently? What did you do to help someone else?

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