How to be Warm – Free Ebook

While politeness is, of course, always preferable to rudeness There are ways of being polite, that badly miss the mark and can leave us feeling oddly detached and dissatified Picture the person who ends up, despite their best efforts, seeming what we can call “coldly polite” They may be extremely keen to please those they’re seeing They obey all the rules of etiquette, they offer their guest drinks, ask them questions about their journey, suggest they might want a little more gravy, remark on the interest of a recent prize winnig novel And yet, they never manage to make their hospitality feel either engaging or memorable It may be a long time, before another meeting with them is suggested By contrast, there is the person we recognize as a warm, who follows the cold person in the basic principles of politeness but manages to add a critical, emotionally comforting ingridient to their manner They might, when we have an evening plan with them, suggest making toasted cheese sandwiches at their place rather than going out to a restaurant they might chat to us through the bathroom door, put on the songs they loved dancing to, when they were fourteen, plump up a cushion, and slot it behind our back, confess to feeling intimidated by mutual acquaintance, bring us a posy of daisies, or a card they made call us up when we’re down with a flu and ask how our ears are feeling mention they like our haircut, and then when we spill something or fart by mistake exclaim “I’m so glad you did that, it is usually me” Beneath the difference between the warm and the cold person lies a contrasting vision of human nature Broadly, the cold person is operating with an implicit view that those they are attempting to please are creatures endowed only with the highest needs As a result, all kinds of assumptions are made about them That they are interested exclusively in so called “serious topics”, specially art and politics That they will appreciate a degree of formality in dining and sitting That they will be strong, self-contained and mature enough, never to have any hunger for reassurence or cosiness and that they will be without urgent physical vulnerabilities and drives which might prove deeply offensive if they were mentioned These higher beings would, the cold host believes, wins if someone suggested they curl up on the sofa with a blanket or handed them a copy of magazine about filmstars when they headed for the bathroom Yet, the warmly polite person is always deeply aware that the stranger irrespective of their status or outward dignity is a highly needy, fragile, confused, appetitive and susceptible creature and they know this about the stranger because they never forget this about themselves Warmly polite people have much in common with the character Kanga, the tenderly maternal kangaroo in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-pooh” books In one of the stories the little animals are deeply disconcerted by the arrival in the Hundred Acre Wood of Tigger, who’s very big, very loud and bouncy and assertive They treat him with caution and are, we might say, coldly polite But when Tigger finally meets Kanga, she is immediately warm with him She thinks of him in much the same terms as she does her own child Roo Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness However big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo, says Kanga In what might be a definition of the essence of the philosophy of warmth Sometimes it is deeply generous to think that another person may be more elevated than us Colectively, we’ve taken this thought very much to heart We’ve internalized distance and learned caution, moving on from the naivety of the small child who wonders sweetly, when you’re sad, if you might like to sniff their grimy blanket But the warm person knows that however solid and dignified someone appears on the outside, behind the scenes there will inevitably be a struggling self potencially awkward, easily bemused, beset by physical appetites, on the verge of loneliness and frequently in need of nothing more subtle or elevated than a cheese sandwich, a glass of milk and a hug

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