Thursday, November 1, 2012

Life Lesson #16: Be Nice

Stickers from JJ
When Cate was recently in the hospital and word got out that she was sick and struggling, the outpouring of love and kindness was overwhelming.  A perfect stranger Paul Jones, who had never met us messaged me on FB and said he and his wife Beth wanted to send us something special.  Cate received a hand-made penguin in the mail less than a week later.  My good friend JJ from Massachusetts (who I have never met in person by the way) sent princess stickers and a card, my friend Audrey (who I have only met twice) in Texas sent a gift card for Cate to make her very own Build-a-Bear when she was feeling better.  There were calls, text messages, emails... so many rallied for her, for us, when we needed them most, and it was more than nice, but it made me think of the power that exists when you commit to just being nice.

Be nice.  Say "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome."  Don't be afraid of these words and don't take them for granted. Say "I'm sorry" when you should be, and mean it.  Say "I love you," to those whom you do because love only has strength and meaning when it is shared.

Flippers, from Paul
and Beth Jones
Be nice. Smile when you talk to people, even on the phone, they can tell.  When you ask, "How are you?" mean the question and listen to the answer don't just hear what they are saying.  When in a conversation, make eye contact, and when you answer, use full sentences with thoughtful responses.  Be present in the moments you share with others.

Be nice.  Even when someone doesn't seem to deserve it, you don't know what they have been through.  Be nice even when that is met with something rude, it's no reason to sink to another level.  Hold your tongue and take a breath before you respond when you are mistreated.  Seek to understand before being understood.

Be nice.  Hold doors, wait your turn, pick up something if someone drops it, recycle, return something that isn't yours if you find it, share what you have willingly, hand over the remote, donate your time and talent instead of just writing a check, notice when someone is struggling, compliment and encourage a person's success, achievements, and even just those moments when it is something you can offer with sincerity.  It's amazing what a simple, "You look really nice today" can do to change a person's spirits.

Be nice.  Make nice a habit.  Make it part of your reputation.  Pay attention to the people in your life, even strangers whose encounters are brief and singular.  Pay attention the space you occupy and how that affects the people who occupy that space too.  Be nice to the people closest to you because they are only there for a short time, make the most of that time.

When you can't be nice, be fair and decisive.  Choose those moments wisely, though, and don't make excuses use reason.  These moments should be few and far between.  And being nice doesn't mean being a doormat.  Nice isn't weak or wrong.  Nice doesn't mean that you don't ask for what you want or don't expect to be treated well in return.  It means being a person who is aware, thoughtful, and generous.  It is treating others how you would like to be treated.

It's easier than it sounds and it doesn't cost you a thing but it could mean the world to the person on the other end.