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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gracious living on any budget

My dearest friend,
I've had a lot on my mind recently. One of the things I've put thought to, is how, exactly, I wish my life to "play out". One of my answers is to live a more gracious life. Here are some thoughts on living graciously on less.

What does it mean to live graciously?

If you look up the word "gracious" in the dictionary, you'll find the definition peppered with words and phrases like "kindness", "merciful", "compassionate", "unaffected politeness", "generosity of spirit", "elegance", "showing regard for others in manner, speech and behavior".

When I begin to think about the source of graciousness in a person, I think it begins with gratitude. If you have great thanks in your heart, then generosity pours forth. You are conscious of how your behavior makes others feel, and you find an inner source of genuine compassion.

A person who is living graciously on less is simply one with deep gratitude for the myriad of blessings in their life, in spite of their economic status. This person takes thoughtful moments to appreciate what they have been given in this life, instead of seething with envy over what their neighbor currently has.

A truly gracious person is not boastful, because they know that would make others feel badly about their own circumstances. A truly gracious person wishes to make others feel good about themselves. And a truly gracious person finds the good in all people, regardless of their income, appearance, or the work that they do.

A gracious person can turn the other cheek when someone is rude to them and smile and return with kindness. A gracious person accepts a wilted handful of yard weeds from a small child with heartfelt thanks. We've all seen a gracious loser before. He's the one who offers his hand with a smile and congratulates the one who bested him.

My high school best friend was one of the most gracious young ladies I knew at that time. After all, she put up with the likes of me even when I was being most unlovely. She could see past my many flaws and find the good in me. Her family lived graciously, despite their relative lack of income compared to many of the other students in our high school. I was always treated as an honored guest in their home. And I'm certain that all who visited them felt the same warm hospitality that I received.

So, what about magazines and television shows which depict gracious living as something only for the financially elite? Well, I think a wealthy person can be gracious or can be an inhospitable snob. It can go either way. The so-called "gracious living" that is seen in the media does not even suit the definition of the word gracious. Having servants, living in an expansive mansion, and dining on the most elaborate of feasts is not what true gracious living is about.

We've all known the little old lady who lived graciously on a small pension. She was the one who was kind and generous in spirit to all. The little old lady that you knew most likely lived in a rather small apartment or house and had well-worn furnishings. Yet, every day she put her hair up neatly, dressed herself smartly, served you tea and toast on her very best dishes and, overall, made you feel as though you were the most important guest she could be entertaining. That's gracious living on less.

Gracious living demonstrates kindness to the ones around you. When you get out your very best, whether it's dishes, towels or foodstuffs, you are showing those who've joined you that you are honored by their presence. Foremost, you wish to insure their comfort and satisfaction.

Living in a grand house does not guarantee one the designation of gracious living any more than living in a small house would guarantee a life of misery. Rich or poor, it's a person's attitude in this life which determines graciousness or misery. I choose an attitude of gratefulness and hope that I will, in turn, live a gracious life.


  1. This is such a good point. Being gracious--and being happy and comfortable--does not mean you need to be wealthy. It means you appreciate what you have and what others have. You're not mean or jealous or resentful. You take joy in your life and what you have.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      Media has us (society in general) so confused over what will bring joy to our lives. So many folks spend their life pursuing wealth, instead of stopping to see that they are already truly wealthy. The tunnel vision towards achieving wealth prevents folks from seeing the rest that life has to offer.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Gracious is a very interesting choice of words. It seems more complicated to me than kind. It is being kind when you don't have to be, often with style (whatever that means and can have no money connotations). Anyway, being gracious is a good goal as a way for all of us to live our lives.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      You're right, graciousness is richer than simply kindness. To be kind when it's not being required of you, gives way to elegance of character.

      Thanks for adding to these thoughts.

    2. "A class act" is also a way I have heard graciousness described, but it's hard to explain, isn't it? As you both have said, it goes beyond kindness. My friends who I think of in that category somehow can respond to negative people/situations in a gentle and disarming manner. They are also the ones who can elevate a normal situation (having dinner, for instance) into a lovely occasion.

    3. Hi Kris,
      yes, people who don't appear to be affronted in difficult situations, but instead seem to effortlessly smooth the situation over have grace and kindness beyond a lot of us. They're the people that are just so pleasant to be with.

  3. This is such a beautiful post and certainly does not have to come only with money. A great read this morning!

    1. Hi Carrie,
      The saying is "money can't buy happiness", well it also can't buy good manners or grace. I've known some very lovely people with little in their pockets, and some perfectly awful people who have more stuff than they know what to do with. Which seems to be evidence that wealth is not necessarily tied to a person's joy and fulfillment in life.

      Thanks for thinking this through with me.

  4. Beautifully written. I couldn't agree more!

  5. I think we often forget that entertaining graciously is about making our guests feel genuinely welcome. I remember one time we had out of state guests stopping in...the parents of the young lady my brother later married. My mama was so nervous about feeding them. One she knew she wasn't a fancy cook, two she knew that one had a milk allergy and three she knew that while clean and presentable our home was an old country home. Since they were arriving around breakfast time she cooked a simple breakfast -- making pancakes without milk. Long story short the guests were so pleased because they had no idea that could even be done....which was quite amusing to mama because they ate them like that when she was a child because they couldn't afford to do otherwise. Anyway, moral of the story -- put your guests comfort top on your mind or even those that you are simply dealing with (outside your home) and it is easier to be gracious.

    1. Hi Shara,
      Well said! I can relate to how your mama must have been feeling, wanting everything to go well for your guests.

  6. Thanks for such a wonderful article. It's a great reminder for me to strive for things that will truly make me happy.

    1. Hi Thomas,
      Thank you. And I'm glad you found meaning in this post.
      Have a terrific day!

  7. Fabulous thoughts, Lili, I really appreciate your article. You're a voice in the wilderness.


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