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Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Magic of Charm

Miss Francis's advice is as valid now as it was 50 years ago!

That Certain Something: The Magic of Charm
by Arlene Francis  (Messner, 1960)
(excerpted in Peace and Plenty by Sarah Ban Breathnach, 2011)

1. Get up happy.
Every day by some quirk of nature happens to be a new one. If you wreck it at the start, you’ve already set yourself back and may never recover.

2. Get organized.
A great many of us try to plan too much for the day and as a result get completely frustrated when we do not finish what we start out to do. It is better to realistically complete a small number of things than to nibble away at a large number of uncompleted jobs.

3. Make sure you’re well-groomed.
No one can be serene and confident feeling scratchy and ill-clad. Your whole attack on the day is improved by the feeling of well-being that good grooming brings to you. It’s much more than a surface thing, much deeper than fashion. It’s not a question of lace on your bloomers or bows on your bonnets; it’s a question of being well tailored, well buffed, and well-turned.

4. Face the day without fear.
All of us have small nagging fears when we get ready to start the day. Most of them are groundless and the result of anxiety patterns we’ve let ourselves get into over the years. Whether your fears are justified or not, you owe it to yourself to take a deep breath and say to hell with them. As long as you are doing the best you can, you have nothing to fear.

5. Forget past recriminations.
Many of us have vague and ill-defined shadows from the past which rumble through our minds during the day. There are things we meant to do, the things we feel we ought to do. All that these emotional distractions can do for us is to set us back from the jobs at hand and spoil our present accomplishments.

6. Do one thing for someone else as a special surprise. 
("Random acts of kindness" decades before that phrase became hackneyed!)

7. Become a Sunday specialist—in just one subject.
Too many of us fail to enjoy the broadening powers of a single, narrow interest in which we can become expert. It doesn’t matter whether it’s gardening, sewing, cooking, collecting Civil War books, buttons, or bottle tops. A hobby or interest requiring your disciplined concentration gets you out of yourself and into a world of activity that will add an extra dimension to your whole outlook.

8. Break down your work into small bits.
No matter how brilliant we are, it is impossible for us to accomplish more than one thing at a time.

9. Do one thing a day to make your home more pleasant.
Your home is the most important part of your life. Unless it is charming and creative, it remains nothing more than a shelter. A gracious atmosphere in your home makes you feel radiant and happy. A dull one pushes you into a depression. Plan to do one small thing a day so that your improvement never stops. A new lamp for the bedroom. A touch of paint on the bathroom cabinets. An experimental recipe for dinner. A few new flowers for your garden or table. The reward for doing this will snowball in direct proportion to the thought you put into it.

10. Wipe out a prejudice a day.
All of us have prejudices that are not only uncharming but often self- destructive. Make a conscious effort to get rid of them. They’ll never do you any good and they’ll surely drag you down.

11. Force yourself to do one thing you’ve embarrassed to do in the past.
We often have to press ourselves to overcome shyness and embarrassment. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to call on the new neighbor, but you felt just a little bit shy about it. Do it in spite of yourself. Things that seem hard to do often dissolve when you do them. Don’t let imaginary barriers fence you in.

12. Read something worthwhile for at least fifteen minutes each day.
Books are the best companions you can have. They are never obtrusive, they never bother you when you don’t want them to, and the good ones enrich each shining hour.

13. Think about someone you dislike—and wish him or her well even if it kills you.
Our own pettiness and hatreds detract from charm much more seriously than we’re inclined to think….To constantly slander those whom you dislike is to eat away at your own spirit.

14. Practice looking at a person directly in the eye and concentrating wholly on what his is saying.
Very few of us are good listeners.

15. Spend five minutes analyzing your guilts and fears and check them for reality.
Most are totally unjustified and are hangovers from the distant past.

16. Clean up one job that you’ve been putting off doing for a long time.
All of us have nagging little chores that we’ve allowed to pile up and are almost afraid to face. Don’t plan to do them all at once; instead, tackle one a day and you’ll be surprised how quickly the pile disappears.

17. Have faith in a power beyond yourself.
Change the things you can change and make the best of those you can’t.

18. Resolve to hold your temper completely for just one day.
You may find this so refreshing that you’ll want to extend it for another day, and another, and another.

19. Practice laughing at your own mistakes.
Try not to defend your mistakes to others. Admit them graciously and apologize for them if the situation demands it. Laugh at them if you can and you won’t have to be afraid of other laughing at you.

20. Practice forgetting yourself completely.
It’s the only way. It’s a must. Begin doing this now.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I'm planning on sharing these tips with a few friends. They seem ageless.

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  2. Words of wisdom these are, Nann. Thanks for sharing them. I never would have found them otherwise.

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  3. I love Sarah's books; thanks for pointing me in the direction of this one! Sheila in Ohio

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  4. Wow-a lot of information-need to take 1 step at a time-thanks for the list!

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