As kids, it’s what we were taught; what we knew. My parents drilled this concept into my head since before I can remember, and when I entered school, our days were filled with learning all about kindness. I mean, they don’t call it KINDergarten for nothing. (I’m so punny. I know.)
QUICK SIDE NOTE: Who remembers Rainbow Fish? Oh, how I loved that lil’ guy.
Seriously though, at that age, nothing in the world was more important than treating others with love and respect. Nothing was more important than kindness.
But somewhere along the way – particularly when we swapped our toy blocks for textbooks – nice lost its purpose. How was being nice going to help me solve that math problem? What did being nice have to do with receiving an A on that paper? Where was being nice going to go on my resume?
Growing up, we were taught to be nice, but as we got older, we learned that being nice gets you nowhere.
“Describe yourself in 3 words,” demands the woman interviewing you for a job. Never in a million years will the word nice leave your mouth, not because you’re mean, but because it serves no purpose. Just about every word in the dictionary will come to mind first.
You’re driven? Great. You’ll get assignments done.
You’re self-motivated? Awesome. You’ll be an efficient worker.
Needless to say, you probably wouldn’t get that job.
The thing is, I feel like nice is so undervalued and so underrated because you don’t even notice it’s there…until it’s not. Suddenly, smiles have been replaced by glares; inclusivity by ostracism. It’s like a light has burnt out without explanation. I didn’t know that bulb had an expiration date, you think as you rummage through your drawer, desperately searching for a replacement. But it’s useless. You’ll never find one because it’s not yours to find. You can’t control how bright others choose to shine. You can’t control how other people treat you.
The absence of nice is louder than nice itself.
Honestly, when it comes down to it, I don’t want to be anything other than nice. I mean, of course I want to be a lot of other things, but if I had to choose just one personality trait to posses, my decision would be easy. Ambition, drive, and intellect are all great, but they don’t really mean much if you’re not a good human being.
Each and every person has the ability to affect hundreds of people a day. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa or the president of the United States. All you have to be – literally, if nothing else, the only thing you have to be – is nice. A smile. A compliment. A gesture. When it’s this easy to be nice, there’s just no excuse not to be.
I have decided that there is no better word to be called than nice.