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  • Writer's pictureNanang Chalid

A Graceful Life

Last year, I attended an awarding event for the Indonesian Scholar Award 2022 run by Kompas Gramedia Group, the largest media company in Indonesia (in Bahasa: Penerima Anugerah Cendekiawan Berdedikasi KOMPAS 2022).


The award was given to two practicing academics and scientists who consistently made a positive difference for the nation over the years: the famous Professor Emil Salim and Dr. Meutia Gani Rohman.


Emil, at the age of 90, remains at his best. It is amazing to see how a 90-years old still fluently conversing, presenting his thesis, and yet, has lived a fulfilled, meaningful life full of legacy since he had also served the country as a two-terms Minister and founded WALHI, an NGO for environmental protection. WALHI was founded in 1980 as the firstborn Indonesian NGO for the environment.


Reaching the age of 90 and still making the world a better place throughout his life is an amazing feat that I tried to learn. Emil is not alone, when I listened to the story of many successful figures (success as defined by living their life at peace, fulfilled, and happy), they all live a life of gratefulness, openness, and faith -- living with grace. While we are always at the risk of seeing life as fleeting and absurd (i.e. especially when the COVID-19 pandemic happened just a few years back), this Graceful life narrative taught us otherwise: that with the right discipline, you will find an ultimate and perpetual happiness moving from “unbearable lightness of being” into a “remarkable unlightness of being” .


Grace comes when you live with acceptance that the universe always guides us to our own true path, and hence, understand that everything happened for a reason as part of a divine plan.

Graceful life is seeing every problem we have in life as a learning moment, and when we solve those problems, we are rewarded with a lesson learned.


Graceful life is seeing life’s scars as a monument of our resilience; that the past is real, and that we proudly survived those dark times as who we are today.


Graceful life is seeing the world with honesty; encourages us to say, strive, and pursue our truth — and not live in denial toward that truth and try to fix our life by being ‘someone else’.


I have tried to exercise Grace so far, and I can vouch that it helps me live happier. I am a nerd and a geek by nature, and at one point in time during my growing-up years at High School, I only had a few friends who were also fellow nerds and geeks. I was once on a denial mode, trying to fit in with the ‘cool kids’ of the school: tried to join a band (I ended up learning to play guitar as a bonus though!), tried to be part of anak basket (basketball club; in Indonesian high schools, they are the pop stars) although my height is only 5.6 feet (I learned to be a good Shooting Guard who sneaks around and put 3-points shot in, though!). Not living with the truth about who I truly am, I could only hang out with them for less than a year. I didn't feel being myself; I didn’t live my truth. I can't remember that I enjoy my high-school years.


I learnt my lesson, and changed how I approach life when I enter the University year. Started from my Freshmen year, I celebrated who I truly am by joining University Press, taking a side job as a Research Assistant, and all types of geeky extracurriculars. And because of living with that truth, I found my big break by getting invited as an exchange student in NUS, Singapore (and became a Speaker at the highly coveted ASEAN Student Forum); and was invited to speak about Materialism at International Student Festival in Trondheim, Norway. Never I dreamed of stepping on my feet in a land as far as 1,500 miles south of the North Pole, and it all happened because I lived my truth and did it gracefully.


When I started to work in HR, my geeky eyes fell in love with data, insights, and the science behind things, numbers, and spreadsheets. As an example, during my tenure in an FMCG company, one of the best conversations I ever had with my business partners was when I partnered with R&D functions: I learned that there is a center of gravity in each shampoo bottle and that you need to set it right if you want that bottle looks good in supermarket’s shelf, I learned that Surfactant is the key ingredients behind all hygienes products (among others fun stuff!), and many more. When the Tech industry flourished in Indonesia, my geeky self found a new home four years ago, and I managed to build an HR team with a product-first mindset and launched an in-house employee experience app called MyNakama.


Having faith and living gracefully, in my experience, have made all the big difference. If we believe that there’s a divine plan for every one of us, and we are humbled enough to accept it and learned that even the worst moment in life was all there to guide us toward our truth, the path will find us so that we live happily at peace in full alignment with our Purpose. In full alignment with our truth.


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain.


To get into the ‘day you find out why’, you need to live with Grace.


Have a Graceful Day!

Living with grace by believing that each own of us has been given a Purpose to live by is the only way of living. Grace comes when you live with acceptance that the universe always guides us to our own true path, and hence, understand that everything happened for a reason as part of a divine plan.

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