“To those who knew Kropotkin, the man seemed more important than his works, and throughout our account we have had to record the strong impressions of amiability and goodness left by him” (George Woodcock).

YESTERDAY WE TALKED ABOUT “SWEETNESS,” AND TODAY OUR TOPIC IS “AMIABILITY.” Today’s word, a good one although we don’t use it very often, is one of several English words that come from the Latin noun amicus (“friend’). “Amicable” (characterized by friendship or goodwill) and “amity” (peaceful relations) are two others. All of these words have to do with friendship. Amiability means a friendly disposition or outlook. The amiable person tends to think of other people as friends, and this shows up in two characteristics.

(1) Likableness. This is the most basic feature of amiability. It suggests the person who is agreeable in temperament. The expression “good-natured” is probably an apt synonym. The amiable person’s natural bent or inclination is to like people — and he or she is easy for others to like in return. Friendly people have friends!

(2) Cordiality. The second aspect of good-natured people is that they enjoy the company of others. Words like “cordial” and “congenial” describe them. They see the value of social relationships, and they enjoy time spent interacting with friends. They also see the value of relating to strangers and newcomers in a friendly, welcoming way.

Although most people think of these two things — likableness and cordiality — as personality traits, they are much more than that. Indeed, these two characteristics have little to do with personality. They are chosen ways of thinking, and having been chosen, they will show up in ways appropriate to each of our various personalities.

In general, we need to give higher priority to simple traits like amiability. Judging by our schedule books, we spend more of our daily time chasing the goals of “intelligence” and “talent” and “success.” But when the final accounting is made, wouldn’t we rather be remembered for characteristics like amiability? Without qualities like these — the ones that connect us joyfully to other human beings — what will we have achieved by all of our “accomplishments”?

“Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty” (Joseph Addison).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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