I want to share the idea of being nice vs. being kind. For the last two weeks I have been chewing on these two words and experimenting with them in my little world. Here are my thoughts on the matter:
Being nice is an effort to use good manners and be cordial with someone. It can require little to no effort if you are a naturally optimistic person, and much effort if you are more comfortable keeping to yourself. Though the energy exertion may vary, the act of being nice can be quite simple. It can be done with a smile or a hug, or it can be shared as a caring or encouraging word. It can also be expressed in your tone or mannerisms. My definition of being nice is being a decent human being and treating others as you would want to be treated (the golden rule).
Let’s talk about being kind. To me, this is a step up from being nice…it’s an intentional effort to go out of your way to make a PERSONAL impact on someone. It’s more than just a polite word or a big smile. It’s the gift of energy and attention toward another person with their interests in mind. It requires intentionality, observation and action.
Being nice to someone leaves them feeling warm.
Being kind to someone leaves them feeling loved.
I used to do customer service training for a non-profit and one of my goals was to teach the reps to be understanding and empathetic. Some of this can be taught and I am certainly trying to teach and model for my boys the idea of compassion and empathy. But in reality, this is something that starts at a core level and boils down to this question: Do I truly care about other people? Selfishness can stand in the way of answering “yes” to this question. (And oh boy, that could be its own blog post, lol.) Selflessness opens a path to sincere caring which is also known as kindness.
May I be honest? I find it easy to be nice to people (for the most part, lol). But I often find it difficult to be kind because kindness takes time and energy that I sometimes don’t have. It’s an effort to be kind!
I’ve mentioned this before but one of the things that touched me the most when my FH (former husband) was sick was the meals that people would bring and deliver to my house every night. This really impacted and changed my life; it built a storehouse of empathy in my heart. For years now I have been telling my boys how important it is for us to make an extra dinner for someone each week and take the time to deliver it to someone who needs it. We all have such busy schedules, but we have to find little ways to squeeze in acts of kindness.
Last night, I missed an opportunity to be kind.
My son had a Christmas choir performance and at the end when I was exiting my row, I noticed an older woman who was still sitting down at the aisle across from mine. I studied her for a moment, she was all dressed up in Christmas attire which made me smile but then something about her brought a wave of sadness over me. But I shot a warm smile her way and she reciprocated. When our eyes locked I felt a waive of empathy come over me. I was moving along with a sea of people and I soon found myself outside the auditorium doors with the rest of the attendees. In an attempt to find Luke, Jake and I circled around the interior of the building and saw him greeting at one of the exits. After chatting with him for a few, Jake and I were leaving to head out. Lo and behold, there she was again—the elderly woman with her holiday cheer—sitting in the same place she had been when I had seen her earlier. She was looking around the room. I had a sense that she had come alone and that maybe no one had said a word to her. Jake was anxious to leave and practically pulling me out of the building so I acquiesced and in a few minutes, we were in the car.
According to a September, 2019 article in the New York Post, a survey of 1,896 seniors over 65 in the United Kingdom showed that more than one in five (22%) have a conversation with no more than just three people over the span of an entire week! That translates to nearly 2.6 million elderly people who don’t enjoy regular human contact on a daily basis. (So heart-wrenching.) Perhaps most alarming though is researchers say an alarming 225,000 individuals will go a week without talking to anyone face-to-face.
Just the thought of someone stopping to chat with them brings them joy: 54% of respondents agree that even a short conversation with a neighbor or acquaintance would greatly improve their day overall. And a quarter of older adults say it makes them feel good when someone smiles or acknowledges them while waiting in line at places like the bank or grocery store. One in five would be thrilled if someone stopped to ask them how their day had gone.
As we go about our busy days and especially during this busy season, we have GOT to notice those on the sidelines. They will gladly accept the gift of us being nice…a smile or a hello will do. But what if we went the extra mile and took time to be kind? What if we seek them out in line at the grocery store or find them in line at Subway and invite them to join us for lunch? Or just stop and ask them how they are doing and if they are having a good day?
Let’s do our part to share God’s love this Christmas season. Let’s carve out time to notice and then take action by showing care (kindness). If God puts someone on your heart, take the time to stop and share His love. I wish I would have done that last night. I’m looking forward to another opportunity…next time I will choose to pause and show kindness.
If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear.