"Dear Editor. I'm offended. Not always, but often." - Letter in the Daily Universe
Question #90930 posted on 02/11/2018 9:18 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Aight, this is gonna sound a little funny and dumb, but what is your best advice for becoming a more gracious person? I feel like I’m not good at accepting compliments and/or help. I always want to repay people when they’re kind to me and thank them but for some reason I still feel a little guilty or something for needing help, and I never know what to say or how to react when someone does something kind and I can’t do anything for them in return?

-not complaining about having wonderful friends but just wants to make them feel loved and appreciated :)

A:

Dear friend,

This totally happens to me too so I see where you're coming from. Being gracious is awkward for me too, but there are some things that I have tried that really help me so they might help you too.

My first suggestion is to practice being grateful everywhere. If you think about it there are dozens of people that help you everyday: TA's, grocery store clerks, roommates, random people that hold the door open for you, etc. Try to just give a sincere thank you to all these people. Pretty soon saying and meaning thank you will begin to feel really natural.

My next suggestion is to find something that feels comfortable for you. There are lots of different ways to show gratitude and some might feel more natural for you. If you aren't really good at being gracious in person you could write the person a note or draw them a picture. Make a list and try a bunch of them out to see what works for you. Anathema's suggestion of paying it forward is great way to do this.

Good luck in your endeavors. Just wanting to be a good friend is already an accomplishment and I'm sure you'll do great. Thanks for asking this question and I hope this helps!

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear #ComplainingNotComplaining,

Hey, don't worry! It's not a funny or dumb thing to worry about at all. I myself have had this as a thing to work on for the past five years or so. See, my thing is that I tend to downplay any nice thing or compliment that someone says to me. They'll be like "Hey, Frère, you did really well on that thing!" and I'll be like "Well, thanks, but really I only did a little well and it was because of this and that and the other." And, yeah, maybe it's good to be a little modest, but I didn't like the way I was handling things. It felt like someone was trying to give me a nice gift and I was refusing to accept it.

My goal is to be as gracious as a missionary I served with, who shall be henceforth referred to as Elder Singalong. As you might guess, Elder Singalong loved to sing, and we, the missionaries in Elder Singalong's zone, loved to hear him sing. Besides loving to sing, Elder Singalong was one of the kindest and most gracious people I've met. Ofttimes I would approach Elder Singalong and say "Hey, Elder Singalong, you are really good at singing and hearing you singing makes me happy," to which Elder Singalong would reply "Wow, Elder Rubik, that means so much! Thanks so much for saying that!" The general effect was that even though I was trying to do something nice for Elder Singalong, it felt like he was doing something nice for me instead: he treated every compliment like it was a precious treasure and would seek to repay it in kind.

I don't think I'll ever be quite as gracious as Elder Singalong, and even if I get close I don't think I'll respond quite in the same way as he does, but I want people to feel good when they say or do nice things to me, too.

Now, concerning the latter part of your question: you say you sometimes encounter situations where someone does something nice for you and you can't do anything in return. Well, there is always something nice you can do in return: you can say thank you. You can do so by literally saying "Thank You," or you can do other things. Personally, I like writing letters or notes or long texts to people to show appreciation. I also like finding little things to do to try and make them feel good, like buying them snacks or hiding sticky notes in their stuff. You may not feel very good at expressing love in the same way people around you are doing, but that doesn't mean you're bad at showing love! Play to your strengths, and I'm sure they'll appreciate what you do.

Wow, answering this question made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Thanks, reader! You just brightened up my day a little.

-Frère Rubik

A:

Dear Aziraphale,

I don't think your question is funny and dumb. I think it's sincere, and indicative of wanting to improve, which is always admirable. Additionally, this seems to be something that quite a lot of people have a struggle with, in the sense that I think it's a natural response to feel slightly awkward upon receiving kindness.

I've found that I feel less awkward at people helping me, and giving me things when I look at the situation as a model to pattern my own behavior off of. If someone gives me food, then I like to find a way to pay that kindness forward. If someone takes the time to talk with me when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I look for the opportunity to do the same. 

Making the choice to do something good because of what someone else has done for me naturally places me in a more gracious mood, and it's more of an automatic response to feel and express sincere gratitude.

The world is full of light, and we all have the opportunity to share, and receive that light with others.

~Anathema