Living Gently…Every Day: Promises

We live in a world of violence, self-indulgence and entitled behaviors. Our daily news can be both overwhelming and depressing. But, how different could things be if we all embraced a few positive changes? What are the endless possibilities that could come about if we found ways to support, encourage and empower one another? Each month, we’ll explore a new way to embrace a way to live more gently, and hopefully, create a ripple effect in the lives around us.

Wise Words: “We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.” ~François VI de la Rochefoucault

“A promise is a promise.” “A man is only as good as his word.” “Eggs and oaths are easily broken.” And my personal favorite, “Always under promise and over deliver.”

Promises. Everyone makes them. Some we keep and some we break. When a promise is given to us, we all expect delivery of the expected agreement. If we are shortchanged, we can become upset, and in some cases, relationships may be damaged or severed by a broken promise.

Promises surround us. We promise a lifetime commitment to our spouses. We promise to protect our children. We promise to keep secrets. We promise to return books to the library on time. Promises are a part of every day life, commonplace in our world.

Commonplace, yet they are of inestimable worth.

Why? Because a promise is an extension of our trustworthiness. Therefore, a broken promise may mean that we are considered less trustworthy and that our word may not be valued in the future.

So why is it that when we break a promise, we are filled with excuses about our broken word, but show very little understanding to the one who breaks a promise to us? Is it because we immediately jump into defensive mode when we know we are in the wrong?

Don’t misunderstand me – I know that some promises are unintentionally broken. The person who made the promise was sincere in her commitment, but something changed, or a situation altered the delivery of her commitment and word. She didn’t break the promise out of carelessness or callousness, but the circumstances took the delivery of the promise away from her.

But if we’re going to make a promise, we should never do so in a blasé manner. It is a reflection of our character. If you’re committed to following through on the promise, by all means, make the promise! And then, when you make good on your commitment, you know that you have lived up to your word. But if you break a promise – intentionally or otherwise – own up to it. Even if it seems silly and trite, if you gave your word and cannot deliver, acknowledge it. It’s the best way to save face if your word failed to live up to expectations.

An old Proverb states, “A promise is a debt.”

So, let’s pay our bills.