Being Nice

December 17, 2008



Sometimes being nice may not be healthful. Doing things because they are the right thing to do or because it is expected of you can be stressful. While being nice to co-workers and other business associates can be a good long-term strategy, what about in day to day life with acquaintances? How about the person you feel obligated to invite over for a holiday party that you have no relationship with, you haven’t seen in a year and has not invited you anywhere- but is a friend of your other friends? So to be nice, you invite, yet you resent opening your home to them?

Dr Carol McCall used to call being nice, niasty- being nice when you don’t really mean can easily be read as nasty underneath the sugar-coating because that’s what it is, isn’t it? How can we mean it? I think we can learn to be compassionate towards ourselves as well as towards others.

I remember a birthday party when I was maybe 7 or 8? My mother “made me” (do we have choice as kids?) invite everyone in my class to my party. In retrospect I think it was a good move and intended to keep peace. I had to see those kids everyday and there were only around 13 of them. There was one girl who I didn’t resonate with at all. I ended up having a meltdown at the party because I so didn’t want her there. Now I’m at an age when it is unseemly to have a meltdown- so where does one stuff the resentment and how to release what gets stuffed? Maybe not making it mean so much, not connecting it to a big story is a good start.

I hear and have many stories about the stresses of this holiday season. What do we buy into that we can avoid? Obligations to buy gifts that we perhaps don’t feel we can afford? My son, Micah, is suggesting to all his friends that the biggest gift one can give is directly letting someone know how you appreciate them by writing a letter to telling someone. That is a huge gift and I know that is what we’ll be doing in my family this year.

Havi and her duck have some interesting views on her blog post Things you can try to remember to do when confronted with family issues, rude cousins and the like at holiday get-togethers. I like the one about locking yourself in the bathroom.  

Other experts suggest listing your resentments and looking for the key cause. Most likely what you can be experiencing is an expectation that the present is like the past. BUT, it isn’t. Every moment is new and an opportunity to make your relationships and your life fun, joyful, fulfilling as well as forgiving of your self as well as others.