How many times has a family member or friend told you to “be nice”? I can’t even begin to count how many times in my life someone has uttered those two words to me. I also can’t begin to count how many times I’ve ignored them. But what if I told you that those two words may be the key to living a more fulfilling life?
Well, it’s true. If you start to genuinely strive to be a kinder person, the world starts to look shiny and brand new. Kindness attracts new opportunities and people into your life that enrich your life experience. And you may just find that by being a kinder human being you experience a whole new level of happiness.
While it’s easy to say just be nicer, this article will give you actionable steps that you can take to be your kindest self starting today.
Why you should be nice
“Be nice” is so much more than just a catchy phrase that you can find next to some cute flowers on a sticker. The research shows people who are kinder have longer-lasting personal relationships and experience greater levels of happiness and success.
But what if you feel like the world is unkind to you? Well, a study in 2007 found that people are more likely to be nice to people who are nice to them. So in other words, it might be time for you to be nicer and then the whole “what goes around comes around” deal may work in your favor.
And let’s address the elephant in the room. We have all heard the statement, “Nice guys finish last”. Well, it turns out that’s not true either.
The research indicates that your “niceness” is the most important factor when it comes to establishing a serious and committed relationship. This definitely leaves me questioning why I married my grumpy husband, though.
What happens if you are not nice
Not being nice can have far greater consequences that getting coal for Christmas. If you are rude, the research indicates that those around you are more likely to be in a negative mood and have lower levels of energy.
Who likes to be around people who drag you down and make you tired? Not me. It sounds like a great recipe for isolating yourself from others.
When it comes to being unkind in the work environment, a study in 2017 has shown that if people witness someone do something rude they are less likely to perform well on work-related tasks and they are more likely to avoid the rude person. This means how you treat others could have profound effects on your work environment and your overall success in your career.
7 tips to be a nicer person
So now that we know we need to actually listen to that person telling us to be nice, how do we start to be nicer? These 7 easy ideas will help you go from being the grinch to the nicest person on the block.
1. Say thank you more
Expressing gratitude to those around you is one of the simplest ways that you can start to be nicer. It costs nothing and takes so little effort, yet we often forget to do it.
There are so many instances in a day where you have the opportunity to say thank you. You know that person who hand-crafted your delicious coffee at the shop? Stop. Look them in the eye and say thank you.
Or you know that one-in-a-million grocery bagger who takes the time to separate your cold items from the rest of your groceries? Stop. Look them in the eye and say thank you.
And I dare you to say thank you without smiling. It’s almost impossible. Saying thank you not only makes you appear nicer to others, but it also makes you feel good.
2. Give compliments freely
When I am walking down the street, there are so many times where I pass a girl wearing an outfit that is totally adorable or who has a smile that is infectious. Do I stop and tell her? Of course not.
But why? Why is it that we are so hesitant to give compliments? You know how compliments make you feel, so it’s time to start saying those kind thoughts out loud.
I can still recall this time I was having a conversation with one of my patients when she stopped me mid-conversation to tell me she thought I had the most beautiful eyes. I can’t even recall any other details of that conversation. But those kind words have stuck with me to this day.
It feels so good to make others feel good. So make it a point to give out authentic compliments to the people you interact with throughout the day instead of keeping them bottled up in your head.
3. Pay attention and listen
How many times have you been mid-conversation with someone when they pull out their phone and start giving you the classic “mhm” response? Unfortunately, this behavior is becoming commonplace in our interactions.
When you take the time to be present and fully engaged with the person you are talking to, you are showing kindness. You are giving proof that you value what the other person has to say.
Now I’m not saying you have to agree with everything the other person is saying. Trust me, I couldn’t follow that advice. But if you attentively listen to those around you, you will find that people will take notice of this behavior and perceive you to be a kinder person.
4. Smile at strangers
When was the last time you saw someone frowning at you and thought, “Wow-I really want to approach that person”? It just doesn’t happen.
Our facial expressions are a peek into the type of person we are and how we are feeling. This is why smiling is so powerful.
Now I am not suggesting that you should smile at the guy who is staring at you in the club and giving you the heebie-jeebies. I’m talking about smiling at strangers when you’re at the office or when you’re out shopping. Smiling at people you don’t know often makes people feel more comfortable and often results in them smiling, too.
5. Tip well
The next time you go out to eat or grab a coffee, leave a generous tip. If you want to work on being a kinder person who values others’ efforts, tipping well is one of the best ways to do that.
As someone who has spent her fair share of time serving as a waitress, I can’t begin to tell you how you feel when you get an unexpected big tip. One night I received a 100-dollar tip after serving a couple and you would have thought I had won the lottery with the tears that came streaming down my face.
What if your service sucked? Shouldn’t you leave a lousy tip then? No.
Being a nicer person means even when things don’t go quite the way you want, you proactively make the choice to be the kinder person. This whole “being nicer” pursuit has to become a part of who you are regardless of what circumstances are handed to you.
There is so much need in this world. Giving of your time to help others in need is a guaranteed way to help you be a kinder person.
Getting outside of yourself and your problems helps you to see what a gift your life is. And when you enter this state of gratitude and abundance, you start to act from a place of kindness.
If you’re passionate about taking care of the environment, find a group that goes and picks up trash on the weekend. Are you passionate about world hunger? Go volunteer at your local food bank.
Being kinder can be as simple as giving 2-3 hours on a Saturday to a cause that excites you. Don’t skip out on this idea because this may just be the one that really flips the switch when it comes to you being a kinder all-around person.
7. Perform one act of kindness every day
Now I used to think that I couldn’t do this sort of thing because I thought acts of kindness had to be extravagant. And I used to count myself out because my finances limited my ability to give while also being able to pay my bills.
But acts of kindness do not have to break the bank. It could be as simple as sweeping the kitchen floor, even though your husband totally promised to do it a week ago. Or maybe you have a coworker who absolutely loves jazz music, so you set the company radio to the jazz station on Monday morning.
What’s truly incredible about doing these little acts of kindness is they often make you feel better. If you’re having a bad day and take a moment to do something kind for someone else, you are bound to start feeling better.
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So next time that friend or family member tells you to “be nice”, listen. It doesn’t take some complex formula to be a nicer person. It starts with simple things like saying thank you and smiling. And as you make a conscious effort to be a nicer person, you may just find that “be nice” is the advice that radically changes your life for the better.
Do you want to be a nicer person? Or do you want to share your own story on how you became a nicer person? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!