The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Qualities I Admire

Posted by thearrow on May 6, 2008

Late response to Oblia’s tagging from a while ago, but better late than never, right? 🙂

1. Compassion. Not to be confused with mercy, which lacks dignity, for me compassion is one of the most human traits possible. Even if someone cannot help you, if he can show that he understands you’re in a tight spot and is sorry about that, that’s sometimes all you need to feel better.

2. Generosity and kindness. This doesn’t mean we should do extravagant gestures to show we care.  In my definition, generosity means giving without reserves or second thoughts that the person you are giving to is not going to repay you in some way. If you have those thoughts, then don’t do it. Sure, we live in a material world, but I think we should hold ourselves to higher standards. I don’t think kindness needs an explanation; I just thought it sits well with generosity, like two peas in a pod :).

2. Respect for different/contrary opinions. I know this might sound obvious, but you probably lost count, too, of how many times other people just treaded on your opinions thinking theirs should reign. The so-very-Anglo-Saxon “we can agree to disagree” speaks volumes as proof of civility. To do this, though, you need to be able to detach yourself emotionally from your beliefs and accept the idea that you might (just might) be wrong. This is something that a lot of Romanians have a hard time doing. I’m as guilty of this as the next Romanian you know, so I’m not extricating myself from this collective trait :). (Yes, there are people who act normal and I know some personally.) And with respect for different opinions come the flexibility to rethink your position and be able to say, “you’re actually right,” or “I’ve never thought of it that way,” or something else showing that you’re in a conversation, not just two (raging) monologues. And when the other person concedes that you’re right, it’s your turn to be gracious and not make a big deal out of it.

3. Not taking oneself too seriously. This goes hand in hand with no. 2. Only when you can’t make fun of yourself you come to think you hold the absolute truth. It’s all relative, people! 🙂 Both my American and Romanian friends do this but in different ways. Romanians tend to be harsher on themselves, whereas Americans tend to be more understated. Not surprisingly, since this reflects bigger cultural differences. Romanians in general are louder and more explosive, so to speak, whether it’s about positive or negative emotions :).

4. Not complaining about your problems. Well, this is mostly an American trait :). I’ve written about it before. To the friends I’ve driven nuts with my bitching, trust me, I wish I hadn’t said a word. But I can’t! I HAVE to complain :)). I’m in complete awe of the people who can hold stuff to themselves and carry on; there’s a lot of dignity in that attitude. Believe me, I try hard to do the same but I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet, so for now bear with my “woe is me”  if you can :). Dwelling on problems is counterproductive; it diverts your focus from solving them and burdens your friends in the process. (See? I know the theory.)

5. Being happy with what you have. It might seem counterintuitive given the above, but I’m almost there with this one :). We have to understand that we can’t have everything, that circumstances change, and we have to be flexible. (Although, boy, downgrading is tough when we don’t choose it.) And that we actually DECIDE to be happy or not almost irrespective of the circumstances we are in. Sure, you can’t be happy when you lose a loved one or your house. But we can find a lot of reasons to be grateful for what we already have. And you can’t build anything/get anywhere if you focus on the negative. Start with the little positive you have.

Some of these come more naturally than others and no one is perfect. We need to keep an open mind and accept that we have to change. Being a good person takes a lot of conscious effort all the time. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!


5 Responses to “Qualities I Admire”

  1. v said

    oh, hit me with a drug! in my head, please!
    ‘mostly an american trait’ means ‘that’s why their shrinks are making the big bucks’. no one can leave in a concrete shell the whole life, not complaining, not whining, no nothing, ever. europeans are less inclined to put the weight on a shrink’s shoulders, that’s all. i don’d say one way or the other is the right way, i just say we all complain sometimes, you just don’t get to see that everytime. 😀

    (of course, you know i have my own birds upstairs, that’s why i stumbled against the fourth point.)

  2. thearrow said

    Hehehe. That’s probably it: I don’t get to see Americans complain 🙂 The few American friends I have do complain, though, but I have a feeling my complaining is different from theirs. They somehow assume the burden (and a lot of my Romanian friends do the same), whereas when I complain I transfer it on the poor soul that’s listening :).I think that’s the main difference. So I’m not advocating for never saying a peep, but for a different kind of attitude. I have yet to learn this lesson.

  3. v said

    of course your complaining is different from theirs! you and they were born on different continents, for pitt’s sake! three decades of breathing a different air, eating tomatoes grown in a different soil, laughing at different jokes, loving in different ways, hating different morning clocks and killing different bugs when rolling in your beds! i sincerely reject the idea of you (not you in particular, but anyone in your position) being able to learn THAT lesson and even stronglier i reject the good you could find in that lesson once learnt. remain yourself in some aspects, my friend. i guarantee you no monster lies in that self of yours that could ever swallow a poor innocent american fellow!


  4. thearrow said

    I sometimes wonder how much it’s possible to remain yourself when living in another country; what “yourself” really means… I’ve come to think it’s a lot more circumstantial than we like. I’m glad I changed a few things, others changed no matter how much I would have wanted them not to, and yet others I won’t be able to change no matter how hard I try :).

  5. v said

    i’ve come to understand (maybe i’m wrong, i don’t know yet) that ‘the yourself’ is your dna bombarded with your life experiences. i suppose the dna is acting like a sum of shells, ‘the shape of things to come…’ (to be learnt), like some molds, so basically during all your life you just keep on pouring experiences in these molds, casting yourself (you’re your own creator 😀 ). on the other hand, i see this dna as a bed of procust – no matter how new-and-different-and-unique the new experience is, once poured into you it takes the shape of your mold.
    that’s a good news, i’d say. that’s why everybody is unique and can’t be totally transformed into something else. (and that’s why science fiction has limits :))

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