“It’s nice to be nice.” My grandfather always used to tell my brothers and me this saying whenever we were being awful towards one another. As children we would always find ourselves arguing over the most simplest of things. Whether our squabbles were over whose turn it was to battle on the Nintendo, or who ate the last fruit snack pack, I always remember the summers we spent with grandpa involved him pulling us apart and saying these 5 little words. Somehow hearing “It’s nice to be nice” would stop us all dead in our tracks. While his words seemed silly at the time they always helped our fights to dissipate. We would quickly get passed our frustration and return to being nice to one another again. Grandpa really had a way with words.
When my grandfather passed away I was only 10 years old. While I’ll never feel I got enough time with him, my grandfathers lessons and advice are still very alive with me today. He was an amazing role model and always had such a simple way of explaining things so a child could understand. While he was firm when he needed to be, he was also one of the gentlest men I have ever come across. His advice and guidance was straightforward and powerful. His generosity and humility were qualities I always admired. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa truly lived by those 5 words. He was a hard-working man who experienced a great deal of adversity. He persevered with very little education and very little support. He found love, raised a family, and attained what many would call the “American Dream”. He did this all by practicing what he preached. He was nice to everyone he encountered. My grandfather was generous to anyone who needed a hand, and trusted people wholeheartedly without question. My grandfather’s life was motivated by love and kindness and that’s a beautiful thing.
The thought for this post came to me this morning while I was walking to work. I stopped at a local deli to pick up my usual breakfast when I witnessed an unfortunate case of meanness. While I waited on line to get my order I noticed an older gentleman yelling at the young men behind the counter. As he yelled at these men about that fact that he didn’t receive the type of bread he had requested for his breakfast, I watched the other patrons in the deli look on at this horrible display with disgust. The staff members tried to calmly show the man that they did in fact give him what he had asked for. They showed that his order was correct, but without hesitation the man continued to berate them in the middle of the deli. Without any type of apology he snatched his food from the deli workers hands and walked to the front of the store to yell at another worker to make him some coffee.
After the incident the men behind the deli counter shared a few words with one another about their frustration. As other patrons approached the counter to collect their breakfast, they offered their apologies for the older gentleman’s behavior. The fact that other patrons were able to acknowledge the older gentleman’s inappropriate and unnecessary comments was such a refreshing thing to witness. You could tell that the staff appreciated the genuine words of kindness being said to them. I like to think the kinds words helped to repair their mood for the rest of the day. As I approached the counter that morning the only words that came to my mind were the words of my grandfather. “It’s nice to be nice.” I apologized for the gentleman’s behavior and I commended the men for keeping their cool under such uncomfortable circumstances. When they expressed that they get treated in this manner often by patrons I had to interrupt them and explain that while this type of treatment might be common, it isn’t right. I thanked them for my food and wished them a pleasant day.
When I got back to my office I really started to think about the scene that had just played out in the deli. Why did that man feel the need to be so rude to these hard-working gentlemen for no apparent reason at all? Why did he not apologize for his comments when he realized he was wrong? These situations can get so blown out of proportion when in actuality they can almost always be avoided if you just change your attitude.
While our mood can impact the way we interact with people at any given moment, it important that we practice the “It’s nice to be nice” approach whenever possible. Our words are very powerful and can sometimes have very lasting effects on the people we say them to. I am reminded of a wonderful quote on this very topic that states “Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood. But you’ll never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.”-Author unknown. These words are so simple and yet so true. If this patron had only acknowledged that his poor mood had nothing to do with the person in front of him, he might have treated these people more kindly.
Being nice regardless of your mood can sometimes prove to be quite the challenge. I can admit it’s not always easy to put on a happy face when you are going through a tough time, but what do you gain by spreading your poor mood to someone else? I think you gain much more by spreading kindness even when you aren’t feeling especially happy yourself. When you are nice and come from a place of good intentions and love, you more often than not get love and kindness in return.
Being Nice Makes Life Better For Everyone.
1. Smile Even when it’s Hard: Whether you are walking down the street, traveling on a train or elevator, or just walking down a hallway, smile at the people around you. Sending a smile someone’s way is harmless and costs you nothing. The power of a smile can help make someone’s day and depending on the situation it might help to lighten an awkward mood that may exist between you and another person. I like to think I practice this nice strategy often, but we all have our days that we just aren’t in the mood to smile. When you are having one of those days force yourself to spread the love. You might get a smile or a nice comment back that will help brighten up your day.
2. Acknowledge Others: As a native New Yorker I sometimes worry I get too consumed with my own priorities that I sometimes rush past people. Sometimes just acknowledging someone around you by saying hello or asking them how their day is going can have such a huge impact. It’s hard to extend this type of kindness to strangers but a simple hello can really go a long way. You never know, you might be the only person that notices them in that entire day. Spread this simple act of kindness and watch, one day it will be extended to you when you need it the most.
3. Be Considerate: Open doors, say please and thank you and I make sure to boil enough water for 4-6 cups of tea and not just enough to fill your cup at the office (this really gets some people’s blood boiling). You wouldn’t think being considerate to the people around you would prove to be such a difficult task to master, but when you’re in a bad mood you tend to make the lives of those around you very difficult. Whether we do it because of the old saying “misery likes company”, or because we genuinely can’t find the time to be considerate towards others, there just isn’t an excuse that exists that would justify not extending these simple courtesies. When you role model these types of considerate behaviors people tend to pick up on your positive vibe. Create a “nice” culture wherever you go. Show people how you want to be treated by treating people the same way.
4. Put on a Happy Face: When times are tough it’s very hard to just put on a happy face. While i don’t expects people to check their emotions at the door, I do encourage people to develop feel-good strategies to help pick themselves up. No one can help you get out of a “funk” but you. Allow yourself some time to get your bearings. Take a long walk to center your mind. Take the scenic route to work or home. Seek some motivation from a trusted friend or loved one. While it may be hard to just put on a happy face there are ways to recharge your happy batteries. Identify your feel-good strategies and pull them out when you need a boost.
5. Be Mindful of Your Intentions: What purpose would it serve if I went out of my way to ruin someone’s day just because I’m in a bad mood? So what if my tea spilled all over me this morning on my way to work? Who cares if I didn’t get a seat on the train home tonight? What does this have to do with the person next to me? We are so quick to lash out at people when we let our mood control the actions we take throughout our day. Be mindful of your intentions. If your intention is to spoil someone else’s day then you will definitely be successful, but if you are not even aware that you have let your mood take a hold of you, you may have to self regulate. Acknowledge the challenge or stressful moment when it arises and decide how you will address that specific issue. If it is something that can be addressed in the moment, great! If it is something bigger that may need some time and preparation, then place the negative feelings attached to that moment into your mental filing cabinet for a later time. There is no sense dwelling over a situation you cannot change right then and there. When you place these feelings aside and allow for the rest of your day to move forward, you leave room for the remainder of your day to be both productive and positive.
6. Open Your Heart: When it comes to spreading kindness, it’s important that we acknowledge every individual on this planet is deserving of it. While we are each unique in many ways we must always remember the common quality that unites us all, and that is love. No matter our differences we all are capable of both feeling and spreading this emotion. Open your heart to others and be kind towards your fellow-man.
7. Open Your Mind: Create moments for positive self-realization. Open your mind to increase self-awareness. Reflect on those moments that caused you to feel negative emotions. While we don’t always have control over the events we encounter in life, we do have control over how we react to them. When you open your mind to uncover those things you value, you help to decipher between those things that bring you joy and those things that do not. Nurture the things you value and try to eliminate those things you don’t.
8. Open Your Ears: Listen to people when they are talking to you. While you might be consumed by your own distracting thoughts nothing upsets people more than when they are being ignored. Be aware of the people around you and be present in the moment. There may be a million thoughts running through your mind but you can really hurt a person’s feelings if you give off the sense that what they are saying isn’t important. Be kind and open your ears.
9. Think Positive: While it may be hard, it’s always better to look for the positive in every situation. Focus your energy on the things you can control and on the things you can take away that are positive. There are lessons and opportunities for growth in almost every challenging experience. Spread these thoughts to those you care about and maybe one day it might help to cheer them up.
10. Just Be: If you are true to yourself and are aware of the kindness you expect from others, you can fight the urge to be unpleasant and just be nice instead. Be authentic and learn to be motivated by kindness and love. If we could just put more effort into being nice we would come to realize how good it makes us feel, and how good it makes people feel as a result. The power behind kind acts whether big or small is infinite. Be nice to others and help change the world.
I love you Grandpa
Ambition In The City
Please watch. If we just had more people like Mr. Johnny Barnes, the world would be such a better place.
<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/36673515″>Mr. Happy Man</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/mattmorrisfilms”>Matt Morris Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>