Being "nice" goes far beyond paying someone a compliment or carrying their groceries. Niceness emanates from within. It begins in your appreciation for yourself, life and others, then comes through you in multiple ways. Think about someone you know who is nice:

  • What do they do?

  • What do they not do?

  • What do they talk about?

  • What topics of conversation do they avoid, or tread lightly?

  • How do they treat others?

  • How do they treat themselves?

  • How does it feel to be around them?

  • How many friends do they have?

  • How close are those friends?

  • How nice are those friends?

  • How do other people think of them or speak about them?

  • How do they see the world?

Now, think about someone who is "mean." Or, just not nice. Ask yourself these same questions. There are some general similarities you'll likely find between people who are nice, and people who are not.

Genuine niceness

Niceness comes from the heart. It's genuine. You know this person truly cares and doesn't just speak about it, or complain about it. He does something to right wrongs and brighten days.

Life of nice

Nice is a lifestyle. It's something we do every day. When we turn it on to get something we want, or to be perceived a certain way, it can work for a while, but someone somewhere will be able to sniff you out. Perhaps, even call you out for your attempt to be manipulative.

Personality and skill

Some people are born with pleasant, easy-going, attractive dispositions. Others, like myself, have struggled in social environments, and have had to learn to navigate the delicate crossroad of "I want to be myself" and "I want them to like me." Niceness is a skill we can learn by examining people we deem nice.


Schmoozing has its place: networking events, work promotions, even speed dating. These are specific situations for which we have an agenda. Nice people don't have an agenda. If they do, it's simply to be as kind as they can to as many people as possible because it helps them enjoy life.

Wheeling and dealing

A wide smile and open arms doesn't mean anything if someone wants something from you. Many of us have felt uncomfortable when someone is being too nice to us. We assume they have an ulterior motive, and will soon ask something of us. Some personalities are so kind we are just not yet used to it. In the beginning, it can be a bit uncomfortable. You can become nicer just by letting others be nice to you. However, if you get a little signal in your gut that something is amiss, it probably is.

How can you be a nicer person or teach others, like your children, to be nicer? Think about the nice people in your life. People with whom you share a personal experience, have seen do for others, or have heard about. How do the nice people in your life interact with you? Or with others?

Chances are, those nice people:

  • Speak kindly of everyone, even people they don't like.

  • Remain fair, balanced and somewhat objective. Especially around emotional or controversial topics.

  • Smile a lot.

  • Laugh a lot.

  • Give lots of appropriate physical affection.

  • Make sure to have fun.

  • Say "please" and "thank you."

  • Don't worry about too much, most of the time.

  • Are kind to strangers, children and animals.

  • Perform random acts of kindness.

  • Don't ask for, or expect anything in return.

  • Enjoy being kind.

  • Pay sincere compliments.

  • Live in their kindness. It is present even if they are going through something negative.

  • Are gentle during times of stress.

  • Don't overreact when someone wrongs them, or they face a difficult circumstance.

  • Enjoy the little things in life.

  • Are less competitive and more cooperative.

  • Volunteer.

  • Share easily.

  • Are good listeners.

  • Stay out of other people's conflicts, or try to mediate.

  • Stay engaged and connected with you, even after long periods apart.

The best, most compelling, and most teachable kind of niceness is genuine niceness. We all know someone who fakes niceness. They may be nice people, but do not speak and behave in authentic or consistent ways. She may compliment everything and everyone in an attempt to make everyone feel good when others are around her. He comes off as a person we want to be around, but those feelings fade fast when we see him just as eager to please the next person - and the next.

Niceness is sincere. It is not an attempt to control other people's feelings. You know when you really feel good around someone because they are just themselves.

Just be nice. Really nice. More than saying, doing, thinking and feeling nice things. Really become niceness, and you will be nice.

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