“Strippers, you see, have a kind of wisdom to offer. They are not self-conscious. They are not snobs. They know it’s not having a ‘perfect’ body that counts, but how you use it—and your attitude.”
(Sarah L. Kaufman)
I want to live my life like a stripper. Well, at least I aspire to have a stripper’s attitude; acting in a manner that is not self-conscious, being humble, not snobbish, worried less about how I look than how I move and, most importantly, how I make others feel. I want to thank Sarah Kaufman and her excellent book, The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life, for teaching me about the wisdom strippers have to offer.
This book has had a transformative impact on me. After reading just the introduction, I knew it was going to vault into my cherished list of favorites, which is currently:
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
Goat Brothers by Larry Colton
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
Wolf: The Lives of Jack London by James L. Haley
I Love The Way She Writes
“Grace is an act of transformation, making an ordinary moment into something extraordinary.”
Sarah writes so beautifully; therefore I intend to mostly use her words in this post. When I do so, I’ll simply wrap them in quotes.
What Is Grace?
Sarah tells us a wonderful story about Audrey Hepburn who, anxious about meeting Cary Grant for the first time, “knocks a bottle of wine into his lap” during dinner. She uses the story to demonstrate that “Grace is being at ease with the world, even when life tosses wine down your pants.”
Throughout the book, she continues to define grace so the reader gets a clear picture of what it means to be graceful:
“GRACE IS THE PUREST OF STYLE. There is really nothing complicated about it. If you make yourself aware of other people and consider their feelings, as our mothers told us to do; if you make an effort to be absorbed by their stories, their needs, and not only your own—the door to gracefulness opens wide.”
“The way he (poet and archbishop Giovanni Della Casa) described it, gracefulness was an art: a way of engaging with others according to timeless design principles of balance, order, and harmony.”
“Grace is about being comfortable in your own skin.”
“Grace exists where we forget ourselves and aim instead to bring pleasure to others.”
Grace is “Well-being of mind alongside the well-being of body.”
“One of the essential tenets of grace is making people feel good.”
“Distilling it further, at the heart of grace is ease. Defying gravity, smoothing your actions, reducing friction. Releasing your gifts to the world. Lightening the burdens of others.”
What a beautiful way to live. That is what I want.
My Practice of Grace
Sarah also explains how technology, the modern culture of speed, multi-tasking, to-do lists, and even the steroid-based world of athletics, has nearly exterminated grace from the face of the earth.
She writes about the revival of grace and her words, and her stories, made me want to take part in it. While reading her book, I realized that during the first fifty years of my life I was overloaded and overwhelmed. I was rushing to achieve, always fighting to win. Sarah’s book “called me to be aware of grace around me and to cultivate a practice of grace in my own life.” I intend to live my next fifty years cultivating my own practice of grace, and doing my small part to support her revival.
Let me return to her words, which have so inspired me to begin my practice of grace, followed by my own brief comments.
“You achieve grace, inner grace and outer grace, because you want to. It is all in your grasp.” If I want it, it’s in my grasp.
“He (Philip Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield) advised waking early, working in the morning, exercising in the afternoon, and keeping company in the evening.” I mostly do this now.
“Grace is relinquishing yourself to the flow.” I have already been working on this.
“Reaching out to ease troubles with love, inspiring folks to go beyond their limits, to look out for and care for one another—these attributes of divine grace are not found only in Christianity.” I aspire to be like this.
“Grace allows us to walk lightly and easily, to treat others sweetly and gently, to receive and savor the gentleness of others.” This is how I want to be.
“Enhancing the enjoyment of life.” What could be better?
Sarah explains that grace is effortless mastery, compassion and courage, and above all, kindness to others. Perhaps my favorite quote from her book is “Kindness is a man’s memorial.” I want to live the rest of my life in such a way that these words could one day be used to describe me.
So, treat yourself to Sarah’s wonderful book today!
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