” I’m too nice”. Although I definitely understand where the sentiment comes from, I hate, hate, hate the phrase. In this broken world we need a whole lot more nice. I understand it is important to not be a doormat and to establish boundaries so maybe couch it in those terms. But let’s stop denigrating nice!
I am far from perfect but the number one trait I want my daughter to possess is kindness and it really begins at home by the behavior that is modeled to her every day. What I have found is One: the key to being kind is empathy. When I am dealing with an unpleasant, unreasonable or seemingly selfish person I always try to step back and view the situation from their perspective and additionally try to imagine what stressors they may be facing that could be bringing out the rude. When I take the time to do that my reaction almost always softens. And when that happens the situation almost always deescalates. Two: Being nice simply feels better. Being nasty to someone in an adverse situation might feel satisfying for a moment but much like eating the entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream it leaves you feeling regretful and queasy. Not once have I ever looked back at a situation and thought, ” I really wish I had been less kind”. Or “Gosh next time I am going to be less polite”. But I have certainly had times where I wish I had chosen my words more judiciously, or walked away altogether.
Where am I most tested? The road! Rude and especially unsafe drivers make me crazy! But when I feel my blood pressure begin to creep up I remember an incident that happened 10 years ago. I was in the car with my parents, my grandmother who had been in frail health for awhile, had died the day before. Although she had been ill for some time the death was unexpectedly quick and we were all pretty much in a state of shock as well as of course deep grief. My dad ( it was his mother) was driving from the funeral home where he had just had a difficult meeting making the funeral arrangements and he was understandably distracted, and cut someone off on the road. Dad was completely at fault. The other driver responded angrily and badly– honking, shouting, cursing out his open car window. It was a terrible scene. Now if he had been aware of my dad’s circumstances would behave responded the same way? Maybe. But there is a good chance he would have given my dad grace and behaved differently. Now obviously not every inconsiderate driver has that sort of backstory to explain their bad driving. But what if we treated them as if they did? Wouldn’t our roads be nicer places? Wouldn’t we all feel better? Honestly if someone habitually drives like a poophead than your screaming and laying on your horn is not going to reform them. Getting angry gives them too much of yourself. Let the police handle the situation. And of course if someone is driving erratically and unsafely call and report!
So my plea into the blogosphere is to just be a little kinder to one another. To be a little more tender. To give grace whenever possible.