When I was in London and Paris it struck me how beautifully well mannered everyone was. They graciously open the door for you, the call you madame or mademoiselle. They pull your chair out for you. They move at a measured pace. They fully enjoy their tea. The elegance is just ingrained in them. I’m not sure if it’s just a European standard, but whatever it is, I loved it. Both my husband and I were amazed by this aspect of the countries we visited. Even the children were lovely in how beautifully they spoke and behaved. We both said we want our little unruly Camden to speak with a British accent and while we are at it send him to a “proper” school where he is held accountable. We joked, but beautifully mannered people and children really struck us, and left an impression in what we hope for our children, as well as ourselves, because it was so lovely to witness and receive.
I have to say the difference in American culture is extreme. American kids, and adults in all honestly, are definitely not as well mannered or as proper as they are in Europe. I understand how Americans can come across, and are judged as being rude (not because they mean to be), but Europeans are bred differently. There is a different expectation there of what is acceptable that what we carry here in the States. Now I love my country, but personally, I like that aspect of people far better,as does my husband. It was a marked difference in every way.
In Europe, it’s the simple things that matter. It’s their smile, the thank you’s, showing appreciation, slowing down, true presence, grace in how they engage with themselves and with others. From my observation, Europeans just seem to be more engaged people, not rushing through their experience the way many Americans do, including myself. The people we encountered seemed to have a zest and respect for life and it’s pleasures, separate from the political turmoil that our world is experiencing. I learned so much about beauty while there, not because the cities that I saw are bursting in it, but because the energy demanded that I see its beauty. The culture is alive and well, despite it’s struggles, and being there pushed me into presence and real humility, which I am committed to maintaining while I’m home. It makes living a pleasure vs. a struggle. Being gracious and aware of the way we show up and take things in doesn’t take much effort and the rewards are limitless.