What Elwood taught me

Even though I was making fun of all those inspirational quotes from Pinterest the other day, there are quotes, verses, lines that do inspire me.

One is this line from Harvey.  I don’t remember when I first saw this film, but I was young.  I’ve always loved Harvey, and this line in particular keeps coming back to me.

(It’s very funny.  If you have never seen it, give it a try!)

In my head, I actually don’t remember Jimmy Stewart saying “oh so smart or oh so pleasant.”  I hear his voice saying “oh so clever or oh so kind.”  (Which might mean that pleasant is the only option for me.) It’s only when I looked up the video clip for you that I realized (again) that I’ve mangled the words.  But not the concept.

Like many, I suspect, I don’t want to think that these are ever mutually exclusive, but, sometimes, they are.  Every day, in multiple encounters, I have the opportunity to be smart or to be pleasant.   I want to choose kindness, but I don’t always.  Some days, I’m just smart.

When a store clerk makes a mistake, or is just plain unhelpful, do I remain pleasant or do I snap or make them feel stupid?
I’m usually pleasant, at least at first.

What if it is one of my daughter’s teachers?
This is harder; I expect so much more of them; I want so much for my daughter.

When I was right and my husband was wrong, do I remind him of it later?
Sometimes, I just can’t stop myself.

Do I correct inconsequential errors?
Inconsequential would be telling someone that what they’ve called navy blue is actually royal blue.  Not counting my own children.

If I correct, is it to help the other person, or to show my own knowledge?
I want my own children to know the correct terms for things.  See above.
I’ve learned many others do not want to be corrected, so I try to stay quiet.
I don’t always succeed.

Do I use words to belittle or do I lift others up?
If you don’t find being corrected on inconsequential matters belittling,
this is my best area.  I truly want to encourage others.

Most importantly, do I look for the good in others?
Do I try to bring the best out in them?
It is hard for me to think kindly of someone who has done me harm,
but I do try to bring out the best in others.

Thinking about it now, I’m reminded of this passage, Romans 12:16-18,
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Be more kind than clever.  More pleasant than smart.

(I had to look that up, too. I only remember the last phrase.)

What about you?  Any inspirational movies?

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12 thoughts on “What Elwood taught me

  1. “Be more kind than clever. More pleasant than smart.” – this is a good reminder and easier to do as we get older especially as we realize we don’t know as much as we thought we did! Glad you put some thought into this. 🙂

  2. I’ve always loved that line, too, as well as the movie. But I like your version better! “Clever or kind”–I think that captures the meaning better. “Clever” can have a connotation of one-upmanship, and “pleasant” could imply someone who’s just a little dumb. But it’s still a great line. As for your questions, my biggest challenge is refraining from correcting people’s poor grammar or pronunciation. As a copyeditor I’m always sensitive to these errors. My husband sometimes slips and says “ain’t,” and I have to grit my teeth! Great post! I found you through your comment on “Full House, Empty Mind,” and I’m a new follower.

    • My mom was a high school English teacher. As a child, I swore I would not correct my kids’ grammar. As a mom, I appreciated my early training. I do resist the urge to correct non-family members, but I totally understand the feeling!

  3. First of all, you had me at Jimmy Stewart-I adore him and can quote about 50% of his movies verbatim. I too try to choose kindness–and it’s hard when you are as gifted with sarcasm as I 😉 I find it particularly difficult with my husband, who deserves my crap least of all because he’s pretty wonderful. Good reminder today, I need to work on this one:)

    • It’s always hardest with those who love us most; we know they’ll still love us. Well, that and the sheer amount of time we spend together. So many more opportunities to be smart-alecky.

  4. Very thoughtful post, Ginger Kay. This is a line I think about a lot: when is it time to be nice and when is it time to be smart? I often regret when I’ve reached too hard for the clever line and have made someone else feel bad (or have made myself look like a jerk). But I’m also not always as good as I should be about standing up for myself. Just the right blend of assertiveness and kindness is what I’d like to strive for.

  5. I think this a great thing to aspire to. I am certainly a work in progress. I want people to think I am smart and kind. The thing is being right really doesn’t matter all of the time. People are much more likely to remember you for being kind than smart. You’re much more likely to make and keep friends that way too.

    • I don’t think of myself that way, but perhaps I am, too. Do your feelings get hurt when you are corrected on minor things? Mine don’t. When I mispronounce a word, for example, I appreciate having someone I love correct me.

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