Honestly for a long time, when I was thinking about writing this post, I was pretty sure I was going to title it ‘It’s Cool to Be Kind’ and jump on that bandwagon. But when I think about the concept of being nice and the concept of being cool, I’m just not completely sold on the idea that they are so compatible. To be socially ‘cool’ is a perception of an individual based on how they are viewed by other people – it’s an aspect of identity that is given to you by others. Being ‘cool’ also holds positive social value and so naturally this leads people to engage in behaviours that are socially approved and therefore will lead to them being thought of as ‘cool’. In a society that is so dominated by quick paced changes to current trends and ideas, I think linking kindness and niceness to this is dangerous. The idea that it is ‘cool’ now but could quickly become uncool is unsettling and being nice is too important to be based on such a constant flux of opinion. For me, being nice has to come from within and be intrinsically motivated and this stands it in complete contrast from the notion of being ‘cool’.
If we could see everyone we meet each day as the sum of their life experiences of course it would be so much easier to be nice. We would then be able to better understand the reasons why people may be behaving in certain ways and empathise with this. But equally, this knowledge would also be somewhat irrelevant. Of course it matters what everyone has been through in their life but this shouldn’t affect the way we treat them. I strongly believe in the metaphor of all humans balancing on a tightrope – that no matter how strong or weak we may appear, we are all equally as susceptible to falling off. So why wait until someone has fallen to be nice to them? What if their falling could have been prevented if we had just been nicer earlier? What if we were just nice to people all the time?
We all have the ability to make such a difference to another person’s life – one simple comment could either be the hand that helps someone continue balancing, or the hand that pushes them off altogether. A passing phrase that has so small an impact on our lives we may not even remember it, could be the same passing phrase that saves someone’s life, makes someone’s day or worse causes or exacerbates someone’s personal trauma. According to MIND, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem of some sort each year and anecdotally I’m sure many of us know at least one person who is currently struggling with their mental health. This makes it all of our responsibilities to think before we speak and to engage in nice behaviours and conversations. This can only help others and this can only create a positive and supportive atmosphere for us all to live in.
It takes more physical energy to frown than smile and it takes more emotional energy to be negative than to be positive so not only does being nice have social benefits it also has personal ones! Being nice in turn makes you a more positive person – you see more joy in life and you give more joy to others; it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Clearly no one is perfect, we all have our down days and we all have our own grievances and pet hates that make it really hard to keep being nice. But that’s exactly when someone else can come to your aid. In those moments when you are down and you are struggling, imagine what a difference it would make if someone said something nice to you. Perhaps they put a positive spin on what you perceive as being negative or annoying, perhaps they give you a compliment (* disclaimer), tell you a joke or say something else to lift your mood, perhaps they just listen, understand and empathise with you. These small acts could change the course of your day, they would spin you out of your negative headspace and land you back into a more positive energy. Being nice isn’t just about giving to others, it’s completely reciprocal and there is so much to be gained from a community of nice people. It simply comes down to taking a little extra time to think before we speak: are we being nice and are we creating a positive environment for ourselves and for everyone we meet that day?
LETS ALL GET JACKETS, START A CLUB OF NICE PEOPLE AND LIVE HAPPY LIVES GUYS PLEASE.
*disclaimer: I just think it’s really important to emphasize that compliments don’t have to be about physical appearances and can instead be about personality, strength of character, difference of opinion and loads of other cool things that are way more important than what we look like externally x
Written by Georgie Suckling