lesson17 Courtesy：Key to a Happier World
Courtesy：Key to a Happier World Dr.Norman Vincent Peale
1.Many years ago trying to help people with every kind of trouble left me with one sure conviction： iin case after case the difficulty could have been overcome——or might never have arisen——if the people involved had just treated one another with common courtesy.
2.Courtesy,politeness,good manners——call it what you will,the supply never seems to equal the demand.“It's not so much what my husband says，”a tearful wife confides,“as the way he says it.Why does he have to yell at me？”“I hate my boss，”a grim-faced office worker mutters.“He never shows appreciation for anything.”“All we get from our teenagers，”a worried parent says,“ is a moody sullenness.”
3.Such complaints are not limited to people who sit in my study.Human beings everywhere hunger for courtesy.“Good manners，”said Ralph Waldo Emerson,“are the happy way of doing things.”And the reverse is equally true.Bad manners can ruin a day——or wreck a friendship.
4.What are the basic ingredients of good manners？ Certainly a strong sense of justice is one;courtesy is often nothing more than a highly developed sense of fair play.A friend once told me of driving along a one-lane,unpaved mountain road.Ahead was another car that produced clouds of choking dust,and it was a long way to the nearest paved highway.Sudenly,at a wider place,the car ahead pulled off the road.Thinking that its owner might have engine trouble,my friend stopped and asked if anything was wrong.“No，”said the other driver.“But you've endured my dust this far;I'll put up with yours the rest of the way.”There was a man with manners,and an innate sense of fair play.
5.Another ingredient of courtesy is empathy,a quality that enables a person to see into the mind or heart of someone else,to understand the pain or unhappiness there and to do something to minimize it.Recently in a book about a famous restaurant chain I came across such an episode.
6.A man dining alone was trying to unscrew the cap of a bottle of catsup but his fingers were so badly crippled by arthritis that he couldn't do it.He asked a young busboy to help him.The boy took the bottle,turned his back momentarily and loosened the cap without difficulty.Then he tightened it again.Turning back to the man,he feigned a great effort to open the bottle without success.Finally he took it into the kitchen and returned shortly,saying that he had managed to loosen it——but only with a pair of pliers.What impelled the boy to take so much trouble to spare the feelings of a sranger？ Courtesy,compassionate courtesy.
7.Yet another component of politeness is the capacity to treat all people alike,regardless of all status or importance. Even when you have doubts about some people,act as if they are worthy of your best manners.You may also be astonished to find out that they really are .
8.I truly believe that anyone can improve his or her manners by doing three things.First,by practicing courtesy.All skills require constant repetition to become second nature;good manners are no expection.
9.One simple way is to concentrate on your performance in a specific area for about a week.Telephone manner,for example.How often do you talk too long,speak abruptly,fail to identify yourself,keep people waiting,display impatience with the operator or fail to return a call？ Or driving a car,why not watch yourself sternly for aggressive driving,unnecessary horn-blowing,following too closely,failing to yield the right-of-the-way？
10.One difficult but essential thing to rememer is to refuse to let other people's bad manners goad you into retaliating in kind.I recall a story told by a young man who was in a car with his father one night when a driver in an oncoming vehicle failed to dim his lights.“Give him the brights,Dad！”the young man urged in exasperation.“Son,”relied the father,“that driver is certainly discourteous and probably stupid.But if I give him the brights he'll be discourteous,stupid and blind——and that's a combination I don't want to tangle with！”
11.The second requirement for improving your manners is to think in a courteous way.In the long run,the kind of person you are is the result of what you've been thinking over the past twenty or thirty years.If your thoughts are predominantly self-directed,a discourteous person is what you will be.If on the other hand you train yourself to be considerate of others,if you can acquire the habit of identifying with their problems and hopes and fears,good manners will follow almost automatically.
12.Nowhere is think courtesy more important than in marriage.In the intimacy of the home it is easy to displace disappointment or frustration or anger onto the nearest person,and that person is often a husband or wife.
13.“When you feel your anger getting out of control，”I have often said to married couples,“force youself for the next ten minutes to treat your married partner as if he or she were a guest in your home.”I knew that if they could impose just ten minutes of good manners on themselves,the worst of the storm would blow over.
14.Finally,to have good manners you must be able to accpet courtesy,recieve it gladly,rejoice when it comes your way.Strangely,some people are suspicious of gracious treatment.They suspect the other person of having some ulterior motive.
15.But some of the most precious gifts in life come with no strings attached.You can't achieve a beautiful day through any effort on your part.You can't buy a sunset or even the scent of a rose.Those are the world's courtesies to us,offered with love and without thought of reward or return.Good manners are,or should be,like that.
16.In the end,it all comes down to how you regard people——not just people in general,but individuals.Life is full of minor irritations and trials and injustices.The only constant,daily,effective solution is politeness——which is the golden rule in action.I think that if I were allowed to add one small beatitude as a footnote to the other it might be：Blessed are the courteous.