Lessons on how to be gentle derived from elegant women whose poise and grace inspire us.
It all began when I asked my friend, “How is it that you’re so gentle?” He told me that he was gentle as a child. He attributes that to his calm personality.
Being gentle does not mean a lack of passion or strength. He went on to be a competitive tennis player and a well-known tennis coach.
Gentleness can be seen as passion and strength directed inward, instead of outwards. And so that sparked my curiosity on how to achieve the same effect, if we are not born with those gentleness-inclined personalities.
There are many misconceptions of being gentle. It is often associated with weakness and fragility. But I’m not here to dispute the concept of what ‘being gentle’ means to others.
Maybe you grew up with yelling parents, and so you yelled. You tend to stumble, drop things, spill coffee. You can’t seem to speak softly on the phone but have the tendency to say too much, too fast and a tad too loud. We all have these struggles to various degrees. So do we refine ourselves,
and betray our roots to mimic the beautiful refined gentleness of graceful women?
Thus, I want to focus
on the gentle movements and deportment of an elegant woman.
Elegant Women Are Gentle
Elegant women are gentle. There is no disputing that. We all notice her gentle nature.
She is gentle in all ways. She is gentle with her words, the way she pours tea or ties her shoelaces.
The way she touches, brush, make sweeping movements, cuddles children or pats little dogs is altogether lovely.
How to be Gentle?
How to be gentle? Where do I start?
Slow Down, Declutter, Obtain Peace
In my book, Secrets of Elegance, I talked a little bit about achieving authenticity (being who you are), the importance of having a devotional to read, editing yourself and wardrobe and obtaining peace.
One of the concepts of that book is how peace is important to elegance, and how we should remove anything that does not give us peace (i.e. anything that causes stress).
Similarly, it is a lot easier to be gentle if you are peaceful within. Editing is very much a process of achieving elegance and we must get rid of “Too Much”. Too much stuff, too much on our schedules, too much commitment, expectations and demands.
Slow down. Meditate. Engage in peaceful, slow-moving activities that require patience. Such as reading novels, painting, yoga, ballet, Tai Chi, sewing, knitting etc.
With a slowed-down and simpler life, we have have a greater propensity to learn how to be gentle. We need not be in a hurry and we will never have to rush again.
Have Corresponding Values For Gentleness
If you do, you will be more patient with their shortcomings and learn how to be gentle. You will be kind and considerate and be punctual, because you won’t want to keep valuable people waiting.
Value what you have.
I have this theory of telling whether a person values her things is by how much she has of it. If she has too much of something, it shows that contrary to what she thinks, she doesn’t value her things as much. If she understands she truly values for instance, her sunglasses, she’ll know that one or a few is more than enough. She wouldn’t be out looking for yet another ‘perfect’ pair.
Also, my point is, if you value something, would you abuse it, and throw it around, or leaving it lying in some random place in the house? More likely you are to take care of it, treat it with respect and use it regularly but preciously.
The act of using something preciously shows that you value your things. Unfortunately in our era of wealth, we acquire things easily, and therefore take no pains to treasure them. Likewise, manufacturers realize this so we are bombarded with inferior goods with shiny promises. Like what your grandmothers say, “They don’t make them like they used to.”
I read a website that gave a very cute and short video on how to teach your child to be gentle. It teaches us of the
“One Finger Touch” which I thought could apply very well to ourselves. When we teach our children how to be gentle, we show them to use one finger to touch something first, instead of grabbing.
Similarly, we can pretend that everything is made of glass or gold and we carefully pick up or put down, when using it. Now, would you rashly grab something that costs $100,000? This is also another reason
why we should buy nice and expensive things for ourselves, instead of spending the same amount on a whole bunch of non-lasting stuff.
By valuing our things and practicing this habit of being gentle and light, we will learn how to be gentle and graceful women!
A sidenote: In Japan, I was able to learn a little bit of their elegant culture in a traditional Japanese tea house, where my host taught me how to sit properly, hold the Japanese tea cup, positioning it properly to drink and the way to eat the Japanese mochi (flour snack).
I was as graceless as one can be. If you watch a scene in Memoirs of a Geisha
, Michelle Yeoh the head geisha was teaching Zhang Ziyi, the trainee how to kneel and get up. “Not like a horse” she says.
We are to take off our shoes and move as quietly as possible in the hollow-ish tea house. Once seated, we order our tea and snack. The tea was mysteriously tasting, and did not taste like the 1000 cups of green tea I had before prior to this experience.
I had a good time learning Japanese tea etiquette but I struggled when it came to the flour sweet cake. I couldn’t put the whole thing in my mouth, and so I resorted to using my chopstick (yes, just one) to “slice and chop” it into pieces suitable for placing in my mouth. I forgot my posture in my intense intent to cut it into pieces. My gracious host showed me the way. Who knew that by gentle tugging or pretending your chopsticks were a pencil and ‘drawing a line’ through them you could make less of a scene of eating your mochi cake?
I admired the elegance of the whole process and I have a lot to learn! Now, if I can remember this lesson everytime I’m eating …
Be Gentle With Ourselves
In my research on how to be gentle, I stumbled upon a powerful life lesson derived from Time magazine’s article, about one woman’s struggle against Alzheimer’s Disease.
(“Alzheimer’s Unlocked,” from the October 25, 2010 issue)
“Teach me to be gentle with myself.” Mary Ann Becklenberg prayed. She keenly observes that we are short on others because we are frustrated with ourselves.
In order to be gentle, we have to not punish ourselves or beat ourselves up over a mistake. We have to learn to let things go, be easy-going, be chill. Strive for improvement not perfection.
Read a blogger’s account of this article, “Teach me to be gentle with Myself”
Have an Abundant Mindset
If you read books like the Bible, positive thinking books, it will show you how your thinking shapes your behavior. Having an abundant mindset aids you in learning how to be gentle.
“I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.” Leo Rosten
To obtain a gentle spirit like Audrey Hepburn, focus on thinking well. Be aware of abundance, not lack. That will cause you to be gentle…to take sufficient helpings instead of piling your food high on your plate
for fear of not having enough.
Focusing on abundance will allow you to be generous. You would let others walk out the lift first (if you are not in their way) instead of rushing to be first out the door. It’s okay to let the kind old lady use the restroom first, you can wait for another three minutes. You have abundance!
You don’t have to fight for your ‘rights’ because so what if you ‘lost’ in the argument? Though it’s not fair, you see it as a small matter, not worthy for you to get upset over. You have plenty other blessings in your life to be rejoicing over. If it is worthy of your attention, you approach it in a gentle and firm manner. You don’t have to react with drama the way some people do. The opposing party sees your poise in the matter and calms down, and now both can logically work the problem out.
How to be gentle requires a quiet strength that results from intelligence. Gentleness is more a thinking way of life rather than to make things happen by brute force, remember that.
Eat Well For Gentleness
Last but not least on how to be gentle, if you are the high energy, excitable sort and you find it hard to control your ‘hyperness’, you need to find a way to calm down.
Some find it helpful to wake up to peaceful melodious tunes in the morning, instead of a heart-stopping shrill ring of the alarm clock. Others practice yoga and meditation or ‘quiet time with the Lord’.
Practice ‘letting go’ in your speech, for instance, if you are telling a story and gets interrupted or intercepted by someone else, you might feel a little angsty that you can’t finish your story.
Chant in your head, “let it go” and take a deep breath and continue listening to the conversation. If your story gets brought back into the conversation by an interested friend, you may continue. Otherwise, just let it go.
Eat well. If you tend to be too hyper, I suggest cutting down on carbohydrates (carbs) and sugar. Do not eat pasta, bread or take sugar with your coffee/tea or drink soft drinks for breakfast. That is surely to send you off to a hyped-up start!
Take in limited amounts throughout the day or avoid them altogether (refined carbs). Of course you would need some carbohydrates in your diet, so eat those with slow burning capabilities like oats, wholemeal, wholegrain, wheat-bits etc.