Kindness and Warmth
Most people have taken enough bumps and bruises in the
course of their lives that one of their chief concerns is avoiding further
pain inflicted by others. As a result, although they will probably be a
bit suspicious when someone is nice to them, they generally will enjoy being
around someone who, simply, is nice. Smiling at people, strangers as well
as those in your circle of friends and family, is a gesture that will warm
their lives and yours. Genuine kindness is a quality that most people today
are starved for. A simple concern we show for those we encounter who are
ill or sad, helping someone out when they are overwhelmed, or a simple gift
of a sweet treat, a flower, or something known to be special to the person
who needs to experience a kindness, will make their day more pleasant, and
help us to have more rewarding relationships. "It is more blessed to
give than to receive." If we can show genuine kindness, we will probably
rarely, if ever, lack for friends.
Responding to personal correspondence and phone calls
is one important aspect of being a friend. Without communication there can
be no relationship. Being "wired" may help us in our friendships,
as e-mail is such an efficient, easy way to keep in touch with those we
don't see in the course of our day, especially if we live far enough apart
to make frequent phone calls impractical.
A birthday is more memorable, a difficult day is a bit
easier, and an ordinary day becomes special when we hear from those who
care about us. A simple card or note may significantly brighten someone
else's day, and the cost to us is quite small. There is a proverb which
says "As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far place."
We can send cold water to a thirsty soul!
A particularly important aspect of friendship is being
available to comfort distraught friends; to weep with those who weep. It
is equally important to become happy and excited for friends who have pleasant
experiences, or bright opportunities; to rejoice with those who rejoice.
Any relationship requires time, which seems to be at a
premium in everyone's life. There are ways to make good use of time while
developing relationships. Work can be shared; especially large and challenging
projects, and accomplishing some shared goal helps to bond us with our friends
and those in our family.
Mealtimes are perfect opportunities to sit with the people
who are special in our lives and share a conversation and some time. We
must eat anyway, and it is a much more pleasant experience when we partake
of food with people we care about.
There are other ways in which we may use our time to maintain
a relationship while we are accomplishing something else we must do. Many
things we do simply don't require our full attention, and can be done while
we work to keep in touch. Here are a few ideas:
Work on your computer while talking on the phone.
Tape a voice letter while washing dishes or driving a
Fold laundry while helping a child with homework.
Another important aspect of friendship is being truthful
and genuine. Try to become comfortable enough with yourself that you can
strip away veneers and trust that your true self is attractive; who are
you, really? If someone cares enough to want to go to the trouble to get
to know you, they want to know YOU, not some image you wish to present.
Only someone who truly cares may be counted upon to be
honest, and if you will take the risk of being true, people will value their
friendships with you. A wise man once said "Speak the truth in love."
Although courtesy is becoming something of a lost art
in our society, it can help to smooth many of life's rough edges. Reading
an etiquette book, although probably not a bad idea, is not really necessary.
Some common-sense guidelines are easily evident. Such things as holding
doors for older people or for someone who is carrying something, and allowing
those who are in a hurry to go ahead of us in a line are usually no great
inconvenience to us, but may lighten someone else's life-burden significantly.
Good table manners are important if we wish to live our
lives in the company of others. A gracious lady once said that if we dress
shabbily, people will notice our clothing, but if we dress appropriately
they will notice us. The same could probably be said of table manners. If
ours are poor people who see us eat will remember us as the person with
bad manners, but if our manners are correct, they will remember the conversation
and pleasant time they had with us.
Very basically, the napkin should be placed in the lap,
and silverware should be used as intended; knives for cutting and spreading
butter, forks for eating, spoons for eating soup and some desserts, and
for stirring tea or coffee. A good general rule for the order in which to
use silverware is to begin at the side of the row of utensils which is furthest
away from the plate, and to work inward, toward the plate. The same rule
applies to the use of glasses; the glass placed furthest from the plate
is generally used first.
There are some other simple, basic table rules which should
be observed in order not to offend those at table with us. As your mother
used to tell you, it is best to chew with your mouth closed, and polite
dinnertime conversation generally does not include any stories about ambulances,
hospitals, road-kill or illness. Also, although an animated conversation
can be enjoyable at the table, it is best to avoid arguments or stressful
conversations which will tend to interfere with digestion.
Words and actions should be polite and should be used
with consideration for the feelings of others, even when firm, such as in
business situations. Kindnesses should be acknowledged and returned. A really
good common-sense courtesy rule is: "Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you."
It is better to give than to receive. That statement is
not some vague ideal but a life-guideline discovered by a very giving individual
who found that giving made Him happier than receiving did. Truly happy people
whom I have known or known of lived, not for themselves, but for others.
Seeking for your own happiness seems to lead only to dead-ends and frustration,
but seeking the happiness and well-being of others can be a constant source
Years of gleaning have allowed mankind to accumulate vast
amounts of knowledge, and even a bit of wisdom which may be accessed in
works of art and literature. They are available to us in libraries, museums
and bookstores. Reading and exploring works of art, music and drama will
allow us to share in the vast wealth of the human experience. Below are
a few links to some places of interest.