It’s all very well to advocate living graciously as a positive thing, and it’s certainly something to aspire to, for it tends to be the gracious who leave the best impression (certainly on me) but it’s easier said than done, as with so many aspects of the ‘How to Live Life Well’ ideals.
The point of living graciously, though, is that with practice it should be possible in any circumstance as so much of it is down to self-discipline and practice. The Collins World English Dictionary has it thus:
gracious (ˈɡreɪʃəs) — adj 1. characterized by or showing kindness and courtesy
…and that’s in all situations.
Rather a tall order when faced with some kind of adversity daily (no matter how mild), which is why I think practice is key. I should think that there are relatively few people to whom grace comes absolutely naturally and with no effort on their part to maintain composure when things go horribly wrong.
But I do think that it could be something which could help the world to go round a little more smoothly; if we could all treat one another with a little more grace.
Of course, graciousness can’t be faked, so first we’d be faced with perhaps a more difficult task – seeing the good in people. Which seems in a way to take me back to ‘emptiness‘, for there are certainly some people in life in whom I think many would struggle to see the positive. And yet, I truly believe that as humans, each person is valuable and that even though we may not like the manners in which others behave, this detracts nothing from their intrinsic worth (much as that might sometimes be a convenient lie).
So in order to see people as deserving of our gracious behaviour, we must empty ourselves of barriers which prevent us from seeing them as such (this is not to suggest we in any way condone their bad behaviours) and develop ways of thinking which allow us to see the inherent value of a person. Then we might have a shot at being gracious.
And it’s always possible that grace is one of these things that can work from the outside in – the more we practice being gracious, the more of a grace-full person we become. I think it may be to do with the perspective that the practice requires.
“You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve”, said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; Be content.” – C.S. Lewis