How many nice people do you know being labelled as fake? Ever wonder why your perma-smiling and optimistic co-worker just doesn’t feel genuine.
From our tender infanthood, we are taught to be nice. Be nice to your sister. Help in the kitchen. Share your toys.
Nice may be a trait people enjoy but is”being nice” enough? Is it where it ends? Is it truly equal to kindness as most of us interpret it?
In moments like these, I prefer to drag out my glowing dictionary and check for definitions. Merriam-Webster defines “niceness” as, “the state or quality of having a pleasant or agreeable manner in socializing with others”. A few quick clicks away bring us to “kindness”: of a sympathetic or helpful nature, of a forbearing nature.
From the definitions above niceness seems to be more of a façade we put on to navigate the world while kindness, on the other hand, demands a greater level of compassion and care. And empathy. And intention. Kindness means treating someone well vs. just not treating them badly.
It’s nice to not kick someone who’s down. It’s kind to offer them a helping hand.
It’s nice to be likeable. It’s kind to be genuinely interested in another people’s wellbeing.
Sometimes kindness can be very hard to offer because it can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to sit with someone who is going through difficult situations in their life. We typically want to try to ‘fix’ the problem, when often there is nothing that you can do. But offering your time, just being there and listening is a kindness that few people are willing or able to offer these days.
One of the hardest yet most important things we must learn to do is start being kind to each other as much as we can. I believe that most people, regardless of our differences in race, religion, culture, sexual preference or social status, need our kindness. We must start to care more about others and seek to help them, not for our image or ego boost but because it is the right thing to do.
It is easy to be nice. One can plaster on a smile and treat people respectfully. But being kind is a different matter. Being kind requires that we look at others and consider their feelings. It requires that we see ourselves in their position and connect with them. It requires that we help them ease the burdens life brings. I am not always as kind as I should be, but I am committing to being more kind, more often. I may not always be nice, but if I am kind then that will make far more of a difference.
Kindness is freeing. Instead of worrying about what people think of you, look for ways you can be genuinely helpful. It may not always be easy, but after a while, you learn that people come to trust you, and everyone starts letting their guard down. You don’t have to live every day putting on a show; you can just live and do your best. In the end, that’s all most of us want to do anyway.