When we hear the word refinement, we think of notable figures like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, F Scott Fitzgerald and Benjamin Netanyahu. Perhaps we think of people we know personally. But what does it mean to be refined? Is wealth or fame a prerequisite? Does one have to have attended a finishing school? Let's start by looking at the definition of refinement. Refinement is defined as the process of removing impurities or unwanted elements from a substance. That sounds more like a scientific experiment performed in the laboratory than a way to describe someone who carries himself with class and distinction. But the idea is the same. Is one born refined? Or, is refinement a choice? Does one chose to remove unwanted elements from his or her character and personality? In one word: yes.
I have always said that good manners, good grammar and making the best impression one can is a personal choice. It is rooted in respect for ourselves and for others. Refinement encompasses all of the good graces. It is the way we can adjust ourselves to reflect and embody all of the elements of good character. You do not really hear this discussed very much these days- which is why some of the names mentioned above are of historical figures. Popular culture today most definitely does not promote or uphold refinement. In fact, today's pop culture icons are anything but reserved and refined. What really are the elements of refinement? What does it truly mean to be refined? A person of refinement is actually many things. Here are some.
A person of refinement is kind, gracious and humble. He neither gossips nor spreads rumor. His words are positive, flavorful and carefully chosen. He seeks at all costs to uplift and not to demean. Compliments are freely given and judgments are reserved. He seeks to make all comfortable in his presence and never presumes upon others. He is confident, but never cocky. He speaks clearly and is sure to use good grammar. He shuns controversy and avoids conflict. He never pokes fun at someone nor delights in others' problems. He is reliable, always on time and of his word. He minds his own affairs and keeps himself free from other's squabbles. But, more than anything, the person of refinement seeks not to be the center of attention. Perhaps here lies the distinction between yesterday and today.
In today's society, we seem to be about ourselves. We scream to get attention. We judge, criticize, point our fingers and assign blame. We do not assess ourselves, yet are so very quick to assess others. We expect everything to come our way and want more of it. We blast music, we look with disdain and expect others to conform to our ways and demonstrate no regard for anything other than ourselves. We meet different opinions with attack and mockery. We are authorities on everything and masters of nothing. We represent everything a refined person is not.
Well, that's a strong indictment. And I certainly do not mean that for society. But it is the society that is reflected back to us each day in our culture and media. I think the main issue today is that people believe life is about them. Whereas, in years gone by, life was about others. When one becomes refined, one has made the decision that he or she is not superior to others. The world does not owe them. They owe the world. Because they act as such, they actually inherit the world and all that is great within.
Originally published on January 14, 2016 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau