Easier Said Than Done

Wow! Thank you for all the engagement in my previous post. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how well people would take it. They say there are a few things bloggers should never talk about in their posts…religion and money. But I disagree with that. After all, this is a lifestyle blog, and I’m religious! God is bound to come up in my posts from time to time. The truth is that I’d rather have 10 readers that accept me for who I am versus 100,000 that only know a fake persona.

Yet, this isn’t the way contemporary society is lived in most cases. Often times, the people that we look up to don’t share who they truly are because it’s scary. It’s not easy to put ourselves on display for the whole world to see because with every supporter we gather, we attract an equal amount of haters. So most people only show the world what society wants to see or will accept.

But I’d venture to say that this only leads to short term fame. How many times have we seen a certain celebrity attacked on the news because something came out about them that counteracts everything they’ve stood for? There’s nothing wrong with having secrets and wanting privacy, but what’s wrong is leading others to believe we’re someone we’re not.

When I think about the most influential people in the world, MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Nelson Mandela, etc., they were all people who put their authentic selves first and society/acceptance second…and that’s exactly what made them influential. They all had “radical” ideas, and they stood by them despite being attacked. They stood by them despite the inconvenience it caused them.

This phenomenon is often depicted in the Bible. There are countless stories of prophets being persecuted for their faith and for staying true to who they were. Jesus died because others didn’t like what He had to say. So did David, John, Peter, Paul, etc. Matthew even tells us in 10:22 that “…you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.”

But the same verse goes on to say, But he who endures to the end will be saved.” 5 chapters before in Matthew 5:10, we are also told, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

We don’t have to be religious to get something out of these verses because they’re applicable to all of us. History shows us that those who continue to stand firm in their beliefs are those that will succeed in the long run. We don’t have to look at Jesus, MLK, or anyone famous to see this in action. We all personally know people that are authentically themselves. People that live lives dedicated to serving others and that do more than what is asked of them. Sure, they might not be rich or famous, they might not have a Nobel Peace Prize, or form the basis of a church, but I’d venture to say that they’re happy.

And isn’t happiness the greatest reward of all?

In my opinion, one of the largest barriers for people trying to live a genuine life is convenience. It’s not easy to go against the grain or wade through roaring waters. If I’m being honest, it flat out sucks. It sucks to watch people we think are our friends walk out of our lives. It sucks having to say goodbye to people and things we love so that we can live more fruitful lives.

What’s more is that in these times, it’s easy to lose sight of why we are letting this happen because when our world is “crumbling” around us, all we want to do is save it. But in these moments, it’s crucial for us to remember that sometimes our world has to fall apart for us to see the light.

This is easier said than done.

But I’d like to think that God gave us virtues to help us in times like these. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.”

And I’ve found one of the most powerful virtues to practice when trying to live an authentic life is courtesy.

Courtesy is not a virtue that is often spoken about, but it’s one that tests our abilities on multiple levels. It tests our patience, kindness, and faith as a whole because if there’s one thing courtesy isn’t, it’s convenient. Donald Demarco even says, “Courtesy is the entrance-level virtue that allows strangers to suddenly feel that they are kindred spirits. It is also the foundation on which other virtues might be established, such as kindness, thoughtfulness, amicability, and generosity.”

In my opinion, courtesy is making life easier for others rather than ourselves, something that is completely countercultural. It’s for this reason that we often don’t practice it. Today’s society is so “go, go, go” that putting someone’s needs before that of our own doesn’t even cross our minds.

How many times have we been driving when someone next to us is trying to get over but we won’t let him or her in because it’ll cause us to slow down? How many times do we not give homeless individuals money because we’re in a hurry? How often do we not hold the door for someone because it’ll inconvenience us?

Practicing courtesy often puts us in a “worse” situation than we already were in. When I was at Publix on Saturday, I had just finished unloading my grocery cart when a kid came behind me with one item in his hand. I asked if he wanted to go ahead of me since he only had a granola bar. He said sure and walked around me. When the cashier was ready for him, the kid asked for a pack of cigarettes. The cashier asked for his ID, and the kid turned out to be underage.

Oh but wait. The kid was actually an employee put to test the cashier! So over come the managers with papers in hand. They had to document the cashier’s success by writing down his name, ID number, and congratulating him. Meanwhile, I’m standing there with my frozen items slowing thawing wondering why the heck they felt it was necessary to hold up the entire line to repeatedly tell the cashier “Good job!”

After finally checking out, I walked to my car thinking how funny it is that whenever we try to do good, we often get bit in the butt. But I realized that by being courteous, I was able to work on my other virtue of patience. The “worse” situation was actually a fruitful one.

So if you’re anything like me and want to live a more rewarding and authentic life, let’s start by practicing our virtue of courtesy. Let’s prime ourselves to achieve a new definition of success, one defined by a virtuous life not by society’s wants and wishes. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s why we need to practice courtesy for it is courtesy that helps us build the foundation for the other virtues that will also help us live fruitful lives.

So hold the door for someone this week. Give your friend a ride. Cook your parents dinner or clean the house. Put someone else’s needs before yours and watch your life become more meaningful. Watch your drive for authenticity grow 🙂

As always, thank you for reading! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share. Do you struggle with courtesy? Share a story of when being courteous seemed to bite you in the butt. I’d love to hear the lessons learned!

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ~ Brene Brown

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