Being Nice

I’m sharing a few thoughts tonight, from my heart. My attention was snagged this morning by a meme that has stayed with me all day. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, and the regularity with which it keeps coming into my awareness finally triggered a response in me today. I’ve pondered the words and asked the Divine for guidance.

The words of the meme are from Nishan Panwar, although the quotes I’ve seen rarely give him credit.

I am so drawn to those words. Being nice has gotten a bad rap in recent years. It’s more trendy, more cool, to be a badass. And I get it. While the traditional definition of badass is “tough, mean, uncompromising or intimidating”, the culturally accepted meaning today is different. Currently, to be a badass is to be tough and aggressive, especially in owning who you are.

I understand that. However, being a badass doesn’t draw me or speak to my heart.

Being nice seems so bland.

But is it?

That’s what I walked with as I moved through my day. I let my thoughts rise and flow, without being critical or resisting them.

Late this afternoon I looked up the word nice. I know what it means, of course. Being nice means being pleasant or kind. I was more interested in the word origin though. And I was surprised by what I found.

The word nice originates from the Latin word nescire, which means “to not know”. Before it became synonymous with being kind, in the 17th century, nice was more associated with being ignorant.

Well how was that helpful? I considered halting my contemplation and my study that was sparked by “The world is full of nice people. If you can’t find one, be one.” But that’s not how life works for me. I stayed open and now I asked the Divine…Why am I drawn to this? What am I being shown here? And…ignorant? Not knowing? What??

It was as I was preparing dinner that the ahas came. And, these are my thoughts, my heart, which may be different from another’s interpretation. But this is what arose.

Being nice…being kind…is a choice I make. It’s an action, word, thought or gesture expressed toward another, be it a person, an animal, a group, my family, or myself. I can acknowledge others who are nice, for the world surely is full of nice people. However, I don’t have to find them or see it before offering it myself. I can be nice. I can be kind. It is something that is present within me.

From smiling to a fellow walker as she makes another pass by me, to waving at a child in the store, to reaching out to touch the shoulder of a stranger who is struggling, to deep conversations with friends, to admiring a spider on her web, I can express kindness to others. Being nice doesn’t cost me anything. It only enriches me to live in and offer from such a place.

And the not knowing? The ignorance that is the root word for nice?

What if that is how I am to approach people? What a difference it makes, in my attitude, in my heart, if I approach others without knowing, with “ignorance”, or perhaps “innocence”, about who they are. What if I lay judgements based on outward appearances or behaviors aside, professing ignorance of those things, and I am nice, kind, loving instead?

Nice doesn’t have to be seen as being weak or submissive or timid. Nice can be the conduit through which love and acceptance can flow and flow. Nice can be vulnerability and the openness to offer freely to others and allow them to be who they are, exactly where they are, without expectations or demands.

I feel like I am just beginning to grasp the depth of what being nice is all about. I’m curious about what is stirring in me and around me, curious enough to continue to follow this trail.

“The world is full of nice people. If you can’t find one, be one.” Nishan Panwar

I want to do both…look for the nice people…and be one.