Small Thoughts for a Quiet World.

Accept & Let Go

In high school my choir teacher once told us

“People are going to come up to you and tell you that you did a good job on a solo or in a choir. It's tempting to say something like 'oh, it wasn't that good', or in some way diminish their praise.

“Don't do that. Just say 'thank you' in a clear and genuine manner, and leave it at that.”

That advice is a good 30 years old now, and still valuable. I found that Marcus Aurelius had similar advice:

Accept graciously, let go easily. (Meditations, Notebook 8§33, as translated by Robin Waterfield)

Combining the advice of a Roman emperor and a high school choir teacher emphasizes what's important in the dynamic. The praise doesn't matter. What matters is the interaction with another human being. We should be genuine and gracious, because that person's feelings matter.

But once we've accepted graciously, it's time to let go easily. This is true of gifts or praise or whatever else someone might give us. The person is important; whatever they've given us, less so.

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