Monday Manners: Dealing with Dominators

Etiquette

Several years ago, when perusing through the Harvard Coop, I found and fell in love with Emily Post’s Etiquette.  I asked for and received the 18th edition for Christmas that year and have since enjoyed skimming through it here and there and consulting it with particular etiquette questions when they arise.  A recent goal of mine has been to read Etiquette from cover to cover, and to hold myself accountable to this goal, I am going to incorporate Monday Manners posts onto this blog.  Each post will address a thought or topic that was inspired by what I read in Emily Post’s cream and turquoise beauty. 

It took the entire two-page introduction for me to know exactly what I wanted to write my first Monday Manners post about.  In her introduction, Emily (I know that my edition of Etiquette is written by Post’s descendants, but I like to pay homage to the Queen of Manners, and also to pretend that we are dear friends, on a first-name-basis) names the fundamental principles of good etiquette: respect, consideration, and honesty.  Manners are fluid, but they all rest on these three foundational qualities that enable us to interact thoughtfully with all of the people whom we encounter.  In my experience, acting with respect, consideration and honesty is much easier in some situations — and with some people — than in others.  Read more

“Nurture Strength of Spirit”

cup

In addition to causing joy in the present, reading adds to my internal roladex of humor, wisdom and inspiration.  Being able to recall words of comfort and light when I am feeling lost or glum is a real source of strength and courage for me.

Lately, I have been returning to the Desiderata, a poem attributed to Max Ehrman, again and again.  My recent move (and all that moving entails, from starting a new job, to feeling lonely due to not having made new friendships yet, to feeling homesick for my old city) has been more challenging than I anticipated.  Different phrases from the Desiderata have come to mind at different points in the past few weeks, and, like a hot cup of tea on a cold and drizzly day, each has given strength to my spirit.

The Desiderata, by Max Ehrman

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.