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.

Friendliness

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 car.

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."

Courtesy

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."

Generosity

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 of joy.

Wisdom/Intellect

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.

Links to Museums and Book Store:

Museum of Modern Art, Belgrade

MoMA, NY,NY

Tokugawa Art Museum

Amazon Books

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