On Being Nice

My girlfriend was visiting from Denver and we were out and about, checking out flea markets and just running around. After leaving a shop, she looked at me and said, ” You know, you are really NICE.” And the way she said it, didn’t make it sound like a great thing to be! My response “well, …yeah.” “No,no , I mean it. You are really nice.” Still didn’t sound like something that someone would want to be. So I just started laughing. And I am laughing while writing this – and she will laugh when she reads this.

But, yes, I admit it. I am nice.

Being raised by a Texan father and a mom from South Arkansas, my brothers and I were taught from early on to be nice. We learned to shake peoples hands, look them in the eye, ask how they were – it was just how people were supposed to act. You were polite and just nice to people.

But the past 10 years or so, I have thought about how to be a genuine, authentically nice person. And it is not easy -I have a really awful temper and patience is not normally my strongest characteristic. My temper is the kind that is electric, it sparks and burns, and I will say things that can’t be taken back.  But when it arcs white hot, I have little control over what comes out of my mouth. It is not pretty.
And patience – well like most impatient people, I guess I thought that what I was doing was just much, much more important than whatever anyone else was doing. I would tap my toes, fuss and fret, crossing my arms and making everyone aware that I was being put out. Again, not pretty.

So about twelve years ago, Bob and I were buying a few groceries. I was not being impatient (really) but we were visiting with the lady checking us out. She told us that she had just moved into our small village. So we told her how much she would like it and to come by our shop and see us. Just pleasantries – nothing big – but exchanging smiles and a little conversation. All this took a few minutes and we were on our way, without another thought about it.
The next afternoon, the news reported that this lady, that we had just met, had been brutally murdered by people hired by her estranged husband. It was a horrific scene at her rent house. And the murderers had been caught in Eureka Springs after someone called police that they had seen these people at the car wash, washing blood from the inside of their van. Horrible!
But it was at that news, that I realized we might have been the last people to be kind to this woman, the last to smile at her or just be NICE to her.

So after much soul searching, I decided that it was apparent that I was not going to live a big life, wasn’t going to cure cancer, bring peace to the world, write enduring literature or paint great art. But I could be kind. I could be nice. To everyone.

Now, at first, this was not easy. My natural impatience was a huge hinderance, of course. My temper was still a burden to overcome. But with repetition and constant awareness of my attitude, it became easier. And now, I realize how much physical pain my temper caused me and how stressful it was to be so impatient. I still occasionally lose my temper but it is rare. I would at first, remind myself every morning that I would be kind that day, to everyone. The attitude became habit after a while.

So now, I can say that, yes, it is true, I am nice.

Hope you are doing well and having a great day! Take care! : )

4 thoughts on “On Being Nice

  1. You never know the effect a kind word can have on a person! I’m reminded of a drop in the water theory where the waves that ripple out from that single drop can have a lasting impact and reach miles. So can our words and actions.

    Kudos to you for being nice!

    • Thanks, Kat. I agree that what we do can have effects that we can’t know. That old karma thing! But selfishly, it just makes me feel better, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is such a burden to carry around petty resentments and anger. Hope you have a lovely day and I appreciate you so much dropping by! Kathleen

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