Grace means sometimes going against the grain. While it may seem that one who was living gracefully would want to be compliant and agreeable, I am apt to disagree that this is the proper action given our time. If we lived in an era where life was peaceful, children were always loved and cared for, men felt respected and admired, and women carried themselves with elegance and charm, then yes, this would be a time that falling in with the rank and file would be acceptable. It would be an environment that would lend to a type of living marked with points of universal generosity, exuberance and compassion. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a time.
When what is normal is selfishness, narcissism, greed, and little respect or regard for your fellow men, women and children, it is important to put your lovely foot down and proclaim that this is not the way for you. While the idyllic world I painted in the first paragraph sounds easier, it is in times like these that you can truly strengthen your character, and your resolve, while making a greater impact on the world around you.
Let's consider the hallmarks of today's society, specifically, what things are recurring day in and day out that are severing people from their humanity, and creating an environment that is isolated, unfeeling and lacking in grace.
It has been said that we are living in an era of "instant gratification." As noted with the recent economic downturn, people wanted homes before they could afford them. We consume resources at a rate greater than our planet can sustain us. We communicate at lightning speed without much regard for our listener, drive faster than ever, and have shorter attention spans. The result is destruction, lack of quality, chaos, depression, disconnect and a focus on negative drama to keep up with the pace of our lives.
So how should we begin to help turn the tide? To start, if everyone's going fast, slow down a bit and if everyone's being loud, whisper. Return the environment to a space of calm, beauty and nurture. Cultivate peacefulness. For today, try doing everything slower, reveling in how the pace lets you appreciate what you are doing even more. Seek out the beauty in the ordinary, and then begin sharing it with others. If you whisper, will it help you to listen to your heart? If you slow down a little, will you be able to perceive more of the beauty in the world, and appreciate the qualities that exist in others? Will it also bring you more peace?
For this week: Try out the above practice and let me know how it impacts you. What new experiences did you have? How difficult was it to slow down? Was it easy to do it alone, but you felt instantly rushed when with others? Did you feel the need to speed through life again because others wanted to sprint through it? What things did you find yourself thinking about going slower? Let me know in the comments below.