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I have always been inspired by people who go through life gracefully. They always seem to live life with ease and stay calm in any situation. Graceful persons are humble and optimistic, and they are seldom angry. Examples that come to my mind are Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and Casper van Eijck. Other examples of graceful beings are the swan and the Japanese cherry tree (in bloom).
According to Webster’s dictionary, Graceful is having grace, or beauty of form, composition, movement, or expression, elegant.
The main benefit of graceful living is the effect it has on others. They feel seen, acknowledged, and respected. There is less stress. By being graceful, you uplift the people around you and make life easier for them. It’s a way to facilitate flow (of love) and make this world a bit better.
I have been studying the art of graceful living for over a decade, and it resonates strongly with me since it aligns with my values, purpose, and WHY. I do not consider myself a graceful person since I still get impatient when I have to wait in line, feel an injustice has been done to me, or raise my voice towards my son during a disagreement.
This article inspires you and me to live a more graceful life to make the world a little better and enjoyable for everyone.
It is easy to get frustrated or angry at people close to you. I once had a gratitude journal. Every day, I wrote down why I was grateful for my wife. By writing down for the things you’re grateful, you tend to focus more on the good things that happen to you instead of the bad things.
We are often guided by what happens to us, especially when things go bad. Then, we panic, get emotional, and do things we might regret afterward. Count to ten and do block breathing (breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, and breathe out for five seconds. Repeat this for two minutes, and you’ll feel calmer and more focused. This will enable you to be more graceful.
One of my mantras in life. It has been imprinted in the yearbook and my mind by my English teacher at the European High School in Luxemburg some 30 years ago. That’s why I always have my first aid pouch with me, carry spare batteries when I use my headset during workshops, leave early for appointments, and read the small print. Of course, you can not be prepared for all the surprises in life. The obvious preparations help me to act quickly when something goes wrong and stay calm instead of panicking.
Sit, stand, walk, and run straight
My running coach (Coach Bennett) pointed out that if I ran straight and with my head upright, I would run smoother. Running, standing, and sitting straight is better for your back and neck and saves energy. You get less tired and have a better (more graceful) appearance.
How are you sitting or standing right now?
Do not brag
Like you, I like to share my successes. There is a fine line between whether success is the result of my effort or the effort of others. I remember that I was asked to give a presentation on the results of the laboratory department where I worked. A substantial amount of our turnover was thanks to the many tests done in the laboratory. The Lab technicians worked long hours and even on the weekends to meet the project’s deadline. The result was thanks to the technicians’ work, which was made clear to management. It felt right to do this and not to take credit as the lab manager. Afterward, one of the managing directors complimented me for pointing this out. He even came to the laboratory to personally thank the technicians. Perhaps it’s better to follow your intuition to do something gracefully.
When I received that compliment, I smiled. You should not only smile when you receive praise. Also, smile when people are less kind or behave aggressively. You will not fuel their aggressiveness by breathing, smiling, and nodding. Smiling will make you feel better, too. Try to smile when something is hard. I will become easier, and you’ll behave more gracefully.
Feedback can help you to become aware of (bad) habits and other things you can improve. Imagine that people are willing to help you grow. So breathe and smile (again), even when the feedback is not so nice. And ask good questions if things need to be clarified for you. It is more graceful to try to understand someone else better than to react bluntly to feedback.
I admit that I sometimes like to make fun of other people’s mistakes and stress upon them how right I am. It is fun and makes me feel good in the short term, especially if other people laugh. Graceful people do not make jokes at the cost of other people and push for your righteousness. It will upset other people rather than uplift them.
There are different kinds of being kind. According to Houston Kraft, there’s common kindness like helping someone get groceries from the top shelf or random acts of kindness like a Caffè sospeso. In his book “Deep Kindness,” Houston Kraft urges you to demonstrate deep kindness. The kindness that requires some effort, like walking up to a crying child and asking what is going on. It would be easier to mind your own business and hurry along. Graceful people show this deep kindness.
Show empathy and compassion
Next to being kind, graceful people show empathy and compassion. That means that you can imagine and feel what it is that someone else is going through. You can only do this by making a real connection with someone else and by listening. By showing compassion, you help to alleviate or mitigate the sorrow of others. You can train this skill. Read this article for more information on the difference between compassion and empathy.
Go for harmony
This is more than just pleasing other people and avoiding difficult conversations for the sake of harmony. If you can not master conflicts, you will not be able to have harmony. Like the ingredients above, it requires you to stay kind, make a connection, and ask questions so you can understand them better.
Don’t hold grudges
Perhaps you’re still hurt by what others have said or done to you. I can have intense grudges for injustices against me. Staying in this state of grudge and blaming others will only increase the pain. Lysa TerKeurst writes in her book “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” that the more pain consumes us, the more it will control us. This pain and hurt will also project on others who do not deserve this. The key is to forgive yourself and others for wrongdoings and not make a fuss about everything. Perhaps that man who cut you off on the highway was in a rush because a loved one was sick…
There’s a lesson in every experience—especially the bad ones. I often ask myself: “What has life to teach me with this experience? And next, I say to myself: “One day, I will laugh about this experience.”
Graceful people are aware of themselves. They know (and live) their values and do not let their emotions or reptilian brain control them. That doesn’t mean that you have to suppress your emotions. Manage them. That means you identify them, breathe, and do what love would do.
Often, graceful people have charisma. It shows in the way they are in their authentic state. Next to being authentic, charismatic people are warm, present, inspiring, and strong, and they are often vital. An old friend of mine is in a wheelchair, and boy, is she strong and vital! Everyone has charisma.
Go with purpose
This is more than walking straight towards your goal. Graceful people know their purpose and WHY, and they live it. That means that every action is in alignment with their WHY. A WHY is a contribution that has an impact on the world. Everyone has a unique WHY. It is always positive and never-ending. You can not reach your WHY as you would reach a goal. More about finding your WHY can be found here.
I can help you to discover your WHY. Contact me today to find out how.
I am sure there are many other ways to live gracefully, like being well-mannered, wearing neat clothes, or being good with words. But, what is graceful living to you? How can one live more gracefully? Let me know in the comment box below. I, and other readers of this article, look forward to read from you!
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