Be Pleasant in Your Demeanor and in Your Actions


Painting by Gregory Frank Harris

The Catholic Book of Character and Success by Fr. Edward F. Garesche

A pleasant manner is one that appeals to others, charms them, and makes them like you. A pleasant character is one that is agreeable to others.

When a person is of a pleasant disposition, everyone is glad to have him around. Faces light up at his approach. His friendship is sought and his company is appreciated, because everyone likes to be pleased and dislikes, naturally, to be displeased.

Throughout life, you will be constantly in contact with other people. You have to deal with them, influence them, associate with them, work for them, or direct them.

Now, if you go to the trouble of cultivating all the pleasant elements in your personality, the result will be that your life will flow more smoothly, and you will be able to do your work far, far better.

Your contacts with other people will be frictionless, where an unpleasant character and disposition would continually grate on them.

Many otherwise very good people lead a miserable existence and make others miserable as well, because they do not have the virtue of pleasantness. And, unfortunately, many rascals get on in the world and make many friends because they have pleasant dispositions.

Your own interests, and the interests of others, ought to induce you to try to be pleasant always and everywhere. Your own interests should induce you, because pleasantness will be for you like oil on troubled waters, making your passage through life much easier.

For the sake of others, also, you ought to try to be pleasant, because this quality in you will spread sunshine and kind feelings everywhere, while an unpleasant and disagreeable manner will cause you to be a source of trouble and gloom, irritation and distress. Try to be pleasant always and everywhere.

There are some persons who are extremely obliging and kind and agreeable when they are out in company, but who take no trouble at all to be pleasant at home. They are, according to the old saying, home devils and social angels.

This is a kind of hypocrisy that honorable people ought to detest, because if you are not pleasant and kind at home, your kind behavior in society is only a costume that you put on for the occasion.

The same thing may be said about those who are pleasant with some groups and disagreeable with others, who are agreeable to the rich, the important, and the influential, and behave disagreeably to those who, as they think, can do them little good or cause them little harm.

What are the elements of pleasantness?

It begins in a person’s interior and requires that he be kind, solicitous for the interests of others, and sympathetic with their feelings. It demands an unselfish attitude, the willingness to oblige, and a wish to please.

This inward disposition is required to be truly pleasant, because, otherwise, outward pleasantness would be only a sort of play-acting, by which we would assume a character that is not really ours.

If you wish to be pleasant, therefore, get into the habit of judging kindly of others and thinking well of all they do, be interested in their concerns, and feel for their sorrows and their successes. This will not only tend to make your exterior pleasant, but it will make you cheerful also.

When you think of the interest of others, when you rejoice with their joys and sorrow with their sorrows, you are really getting rid of your own burdens.

Moreover, thoughts have a way of showing themselves in one’s exterior. If you are interiorly happy and charitable, kind and sympathetic, your face will naturally tend to become agreeable, cheerful, and pleasing, and your actions will reflect the interior glow of kindness.

Do not, for pity’s sake, try to force a pleasant appearance and agreeable manner, but let them glow naturally from an inward gentleness and courtesy of thought.

There are two sides to every character, the light and the dark side, and you may choose which one to look upon in others. If you seek out the defects and misdeeds of others, you can find them very easily.

We all have enough faults, but if you accustom yourself to look on the good qualities of those around you and to excuse their human imperfections, you will get to like them better.

This is the way you wish others to treat you; you want them to give you credit for all the good that is in you and to excuse all the imperfection and evil.

By following the Golden Rule, therefore, you will give yourself the great advantage of a kindly outlook on human nature. But all this inward kindness and amiability will be lost on other people unless you express it by your outward actions.

Mind readers are extremely rare (if indeed they exist at all), and so everyone is obliged to read everyone else’s mind and disposition by his looks, his actions, and his words.

Some people have faces suited for the expression of pleasant, kind thoughts. Some people’s faces are naturally solemn and expressionless. Civilized folk usually wear a somewhat neutral expression like a mask, to cover their feelings.

Spend one day in the midst of a gloomy, solemn-looking, expressionless multitude of people, and you will find yourself intensely depressed. Pass another day in the midst of a pleasant, smiling group, and see how cheerful you become in consequence.

You affect others just as they affect you. So let your face light up now and then with a smile, with a kind look, and indicate to others by your expression the inward geniality and kindness that they will so much appreciate.

Tones of voice also have a great deal to do with pleasantness. People judge by your inflections as much as by your words, and there are some people who lift up the heart of the hearer by the mere tones of their voices — cheerful, kindly, helpful tones.

Courtesy and good manners are likewise very important parts of a pleasant personality. It requires a good deal of self-discipline, observation, and effort to acquire really beautiful manners, which are not obtrusive and yet are perfect in their poise and charm.

The substance of your speech is, of course, all important when it comes to being pleasant to others. Caustic wit, sarcastic or unfeeling jests, and harsh criticism do not go with a pleasant character.

Those who allow themselves to become uncharitable in speech, who backbite others, or who repeat evil rumors may hurt themselves even more than they hurt the object of their evil speech.

They ruin the pleasantness of their own character, and even if their hearers do not believe what they say against others, they retain the impression of a caustic, sour, unpleasant personality.

Many of the elements of a pleasant personality will come up for consideration later, because pleasantness is a harmony of many strings, and to be pleasant, one has to attend to various details of action, speech, and conduct.

But it is worthy to deal seriously with oneself on this subject and to ask oneself, “In what degree do I possess the excellent and magical quality of pleasantness to others, and how may I improve and perfect such a lovely and efficacious quality of character?”

And St. Francis De Sales says: “The measure of Divine Providence acting on us is the degree of confidence that we have in it.” This is where the problem lies. Many do not believe in Providence because they’ve never experienced it, but they’ve never experienced it because they’ve never jumped into the void and taken the leap of faith. They never give it the possibility to intervene. They calculate everything, anticipate everything, they seek to resolve everything by counting on themselves, instead of counting on God. -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace http://amzn.to/2u1NCTd (afflink)

We’ve heard the term before….Domestic Monastery. I understand the sentiment and I think it is a lovely term that is loaded with possibilities within the home. Personally, my home couldn’t be mistaken for a monastery at any given time…

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This booklet contains practical advice on the subjects of dating and choosing a spouse from the Catholic theological viewpoint. Father Lovasik points out clearly what one’s moral obligations are in this area, providing an invaluable aid to youthful readers. Additionally, he demonstrates that Catholic marriage is different from secular marriage and why it is important to choose a partner who is of the Catholic Faith if one would insure his or her personal happiness in marriage. With the rampant dangers to impurity today, with the lax moral standards of a large segment of our society, with divorce at epidemic levels, Clean Love in Courtship will be a welcome source of light and guidance to Catholics serious about their faith.

Excellent book written for the youth by Rev. George Kelly…
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