Did you know there is a difference between being Kind and Nice? Which would you rather be? Keep reading to find out!
“Be nice!” We were told by our parents.
“He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.” We were told about Santa Clause.
As girls we were even told that we were made of “Sugar and spice and everything nice.”
But…. What does being “nice” even mean?
According to the Internet, the definition of nice is:
pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory
Ok, let us take a look at these separately.
Pleasant. Hmmmmm, isn’t that a matter of opinion? Some people may find a used car salesman pleasant, and I might find him creepy – which of us is right? Personally, I think an aromatic and bitter I.P.A. is very pleasant. My husband disagrees. So right off the bat, our definition of “nice” isn’t holding up very well.
Agreeable. According to whom? Are we talking agreeable just for the sake of agreement? What if disagreeing would be more beneficial to all involved? Oh, wait, that wouldn’t be “nice,” though, would it?
Satisfactory. Here we are in opinion land again – satisfactory according to whom? My homeschooled son performing well at the end of his musical theater class is very satisfactory to me, for I want him to love whatever it is that he does in the world. To my grandparents, however, who think he should be focusing strictly on academics and going to school, this effort is not only unsatisfactory, it is pointless.
Maybe it is just me, but all of these definitions seemed to be focused on perceptions – about how others view our behavior, not necessarily based on the behavior itself. Add more people into our lives, and we get even more ideas about who we are and how we should live.
In my experience, living our lives focused on what others want or think or tell us is not only exhausting and frustrating, it’s also non-productive. We can’t freely give our own unique gifts to the world if we’re constantly checking ourselves based on someone else’s version of us. Not only that, but we are incapable of living up to someone else’s standards, so we’ll be constantly adding to any feelings of unworthiness as we continue to fail to comply with their way of being. It ends up being a lose-lose; we’ll never be what they want us to be, and we’re all missing out on experiencing our Authentic Self.
So what can we do instead?
Ok, I have to admit that the only catch phrase I can think of with the word kind is “Be Kind, Rewind.” And I only agree that this is kind to do because I worked in a video rental store back in the 90’s – you know… VHS days.
So what does it mean to be “kind?”
According to the Internet, the definition of kind is:
having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.
I’d like to look at these in a different way than I did with “nice”:
Can you honor yourself while being friendly? Totally! It is absolutely possible to be Authentic, put you at the top of your own priority list, and communicate boundaries to others while remaining friendly.
Can you honor yourself while being generous? Of course! In order to have anything to be generous with, you have to have given it to yourself first. The more filled we are – and the more Authentic we can be – the more our natural generosity of time, talent, and treasure will emerge.
Can you honor yourself while having a considerate nature? Absolutely! In fact, only as you have a considerate nature for yourself will you be able to be truly and freely considerate of others, without expecting anything in return.
With being kind, there is plenty of room to put ourselves first, be authentic, and also honor those around us. Looking at the list above, it seems to me that being kind is basically The Golden Rule: treating others how you would wish to be treated.
In my experience, living our lives honoring our own needs and desires while being kind to others as we maneuver through life is the best formula for joyous living. This gives permission to the people we come into contact with to do the same for themselves. With this level of communication and personal responsibility, we can create systems that work for us all, and that are built to highlight our strengths and talents. Being kind to each other starts with being kind to ourselves. This is one of the greatest gifts we could ever give us.
Which will you choose? Kind, or nice? What have you chosen most often up until this point?
Unfortunately, women will tend to have a harder time with this one due to gender stereotypes. We all internalize this bias in our own way, and some keep quiet, or learn to fit in by pleasing others. It is time to stop this madness, express our needs authentically – and kindly – and know that they are worthy of being met (even if it is us who must meet them). Again, this starts with honoring ourselves. After all, no matter how badly we want love and appreciation, we won’t accept them unless we give them to us first.