The Art of Being Nice

DSC_0132Back in Primary 4, my school teacher told us not to use the word ‘nice’ in our creative writing. Not even once! We couldn’t describe anyone or anything with it, we had to use our imagination and come up with something different.

Sometimes, we just need time to wallow in our own bubble of sadness/misery/disappointment/negativity etc. Maybe it’s easier than facing the problem. Maybe it’s confusion at the situation. Maybe it’s hormones. Or maybe we’re all just miserable, selfish gits sometimes! I guess they’re all fine excuses really, but too often I think these emotion and excuses get carried over from one day to the next, over and over, and before we realise it, we’re stuck in this rut where we get used to not appreciating what we have in place of feeling sorry for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for embracing whatever emotions you’re feeling, not putting up a front or forcing yourself into emotions that could worsen your mood, but when this behavior rolls on to affect not only yourself, but the world around you? It’s time to reassess things.

So I’m reclaiming the word nice, and more importantly, the practice of being nice. To people, to things, to ourselves. The truth is, it doesn’t take an awful lot of energy. As I wrote this post in my notebook, I was sat in a cafe with a cup of tea and pain au chocolat looking over the river. That was nice. As were the couple sat beside me reading their papers and occasionally breaking for more coffee and a chat. The waitress was cheerful and friendly and helpful and, you guessed it, nice.

And I won’t lie, in a town like Peebles, where ‘nice’ accompanies the town name like pickle accompanies cheese (very well indeed!), it’s easy to look around and see nice things. But surely if one small town has so much good in it, a big city like Glasgow or Edinburgh or wherever you are must be swarmed with it! I found five things in one room without even turning my head. I think sometimes we forget to take a breath, look around, and appreciate that there are really nice things all around. We get so consumed with our plans, our emotions, the places we need to be and who we need to see, we often forget to appreciate the wonders that are outside our bubble. We choose the place we live and work and study usually because we feel a connection with the people and the place, maybe we should all try that little bit harder to really appreciate it on the widest scale we can.

I guess I just think that niceness is free and easy and so often gets overshadowed in place of other things, when looking around and appreciating the good over the bad or frustrating or unexpected adds a new level of positivity that could totally alter our outlooks for the day and, perhaps, for life.

Here are some nice things I’m trying to do more actively.

1. Smile at people on the street. In a big city like Glasgow, I’ve noticed how little people do this. Why not give everyone else a chance to share a nice gesture that involves no more that 3 seconds?

2. Look around. This is easier said than done I think. I walk most places, usually with the radio or music in my headphones and before I know it, I’m at my destination and haven’t taken in anything of the journey. I’m not saying dawdle, take twice as long to walk to work or stop every 2 minutes to admire things, but just keep your eyes open to the world. Chances are, you’ll see something you never noticed before, like the cat who sits on every car roof on that street or the couple with no garden who sit on the front step with a bottle of wine every time it’s sunny.

3. Ignore any negativity. I think we all find ourselves in situations when someone, maybe yourself, makes a comment about someone or something. It may not be awful or cruel, but it also might not be that nice. When you’re in groups or with people, try to only bring positive comments to the table rather than going along with what is being said that maybe isn’t so good. This can be awkward and difficult if someone is upset or having a hard time, but just trying to put a positive spin on something tough might move it along more swiftly than you expect!

So give it a go. I expect you are all very nice people anyway, but try being more active in what you say and do and you may learn something about yourself and your attitudes!

Kath xx


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