Summer Suggestions

Summer Suggestions

In my final column before the summer break, I’d like to suggest some things about loving and serving one another well here in Our Lady of Grace and at home.  Here’s my list:

  1. Manners are the minimum of morals. I learned this from a dean back in college.  He didn’t mean fussy etiquette, but rather how to treat people respectfully and kindly.  Good manners create a good environment and good relationships.
  2. Praise more than you criticize.  Look for the good, and you’ll find it; people don’t grow through insincere or false praise, but we thrive in an atmosphere which looks for and celebrates virtue, accomplishment, beauty, and the like.
  3. Wisdom knows when to let slights pass. Every human being is weak; while it’s important that we encourage one another toward growth, insisting on perfection from others only causes damaging conflict (and it’s pretty hypocritical, too).
  4. Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Most people, however weak, are trying to do the right thing most of the time.  Give credit for that.  Don’t assume bad motives unless and until you have overwhelming proof.
  5. Everybody’s messed up somewhere.  I learned this maxim in my psych training.  It’s a good reminder for forgiving ourselves, and for tolerating others with good humor.
  6. Pick up after yourself.  I mean this not only as, “Don’t litter” (although I mean that, too), but in the emotional sense as well.  If you step on someone’s toe – literally or metaphorically – even if you didn’t mean to, apologize.  It’s easy, and surprisingly helpful in making relationships go well.
  7. Accept apologies graciously. And then forget the incident.  Dredging up “old stuff” can ruin a relationship, and replaying slights in our minds makes us suspicious and mean-spirited.
  8. Care about other people’s happiness, and about your own virtue.  Most of us get this backward, putting energy into our own happiness and snooping around about the virtue (or lack of it) of others.
  9. Other people have real problems.  If we’re not bleeding to death, starving to death, or about to be shot, most likely a lot of people in the world have it much worse than we do at this moment.  Keep troubles in perspective.  Don’t “make mountains out of molehills.”
  10. It’s not about you.  Infants think of themselves as the center of the universe; adults, not so much.  But it’s a daily choice to act like an infant, or like an adult.

God let Moses stop at ten at Mt. Sinai, but I’ve got three more:

  1. Stay out of other people’s business. Much harm is caused in families, communities, and parishes by people who meddle, who have opinions about everyone else’s behavior, who don’t let other people live their own lives.  
  2. Spend some time with beauty each day.  It can be music, nature, art, or simply silence; but without beauty we shrivel up inside and are no good for ourselves or for anyone else.
  3. When sad or perplexed, try giving.  Generosity to others in need – time, attention, money, a helping hand – is one of the best remedies for the ills that are often due to our being too preoccupied with ourselves.  

My next column will be in September.  Have a wonderful summer.  Until then, Peace.