Can I let you in on a little secret?
Do you know the one thing that I want more than almost anything?
A new car? A bigger house? More zeroes at the end of my paycheck? More Twitter followers?
None of those things are even close.
I want a nicer world.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this here on The Positivity Solution, but this simple goal is the passion that drives pretty much all of my actions on a daily basis.
Let’s be real–this world need more kindness.
We need more civility. We need more positivity. Simply put, we need to treat each other better at work, at home, everywhere.
I’ll admit that I’m a little weird when it comes to the topic of kindness.
When I see people treated poorly, it really bothers me. A LOT.
Some people are able to shrug it off and ignore it, but I can’t for some reason. In fact, when I see other people being treated horribly, it has been known to literally ruin my day.
This particular situation caused me to lose sleep for the entire weekend after I witnessed it.
My friends joke that I was born with the “empathy gene on steroids.” I actually used to think that it was a curse to hurt so deeply for other people.
This might sound weird to some people reading this, but there have been many private moments in my life where I wished that I didn’t care so much.
I don’t wish for that anymore. Now I wish for something far more meaningful:
A nicer world.
Actually, I’m far past “wishing” for it. I’m ready to take action. I want to create a movement.
Here. Today. Now.
I have finally accepted that my particular reason for being on earth is throw my heart and soul into making this a world a nicer place.
Someone has to do it, right?
The thing is, now I really want this responsibility. Besides taking care of my family, there’s nothing that I will ever do personally or professionally that will be more important than this.
In order to make it happen, we’re going to need a plan.
Here it is.
The New Era is Finally Here
As of the moment that you’re reading these words, I’m officially declaring this the Era of the Nice Guy (and Nice Gals too, of course).
Jerks, bullies, and asshats of the world, please be warned: Being an insufferable punk-ass is officially out of style. It’s time to get with the program.
Speaking of the program, here it is in 3 simple steps:
Step #1: Be nice to everybody you encounter (at home, at work, at the mall, while you are in your car in traffic, everywhere), and resolve to consistently treat the people of this world with kindness, dignity and respect.
Step #2: Be nice when no one is watching and when you think no one is watching. That means not being an ass behind someone’s back or behind the anonymity of a computer screen. Being nice to someone’s face and a total jerk behind their back actually makes you the worst kind of asshat of all.
Step #3: Be nice to YOU! Give yourself a break when you make a mistake, be kind to the only body you’ll ever have, refuse to be anyone’s doormat, and love yourself enough to systematically cut out the relationships in your life that don’t honor the best of who you are.
Simple, right? Then let’s commit to making it happen.
If we can get millions of people to simply do these 3 things, we will change the world.
But before we can reach millions, we need to start with us.
Fair warning, if you’re not up for a challenge, you’re probably going to hate what you’re about to read.
Nothing that you’ll see below is going to be very easy, but then again, changing the world is never easy. But if we need something to be “easy” in order to do what’s right, then that would make us Grade-A chumps.
And I’m confident that there are no chumps reading these words.
Welcome to the Era of the Nice Guy.
Let’s get to it.
Step #1: Be Nice to Everybody You Encounter
Yeah, I said it. Everybody.
(Author’s note: If there’s someone in your life who you feel doesn’t deserve your kindness, I have something for you in Step #2.)
Yes, we can do this.
Think about it: If you knew of a person who was nice to some people, but not nice to others, would you consider him/her to be a nice person overall?
Withholding kindness to anyone is now officially out of style–you heard it here first. On the flip side, I know how much work we need to do as a society in order to make niceness something that is officially “in style.”
If you don’t believe that we have a lot of work to do, keep reading.
Most of you are already aware of the fact that I’m a hardcore optimist, but I’ll be damned if some of the hideous behavior that I witnessed firsthand in the past few months didn’t put my optimism to a serious test.
- A customer viciously (I mean, viciously–ask my wife, she was there too) cursing out a UPS delivery man for something that was completely the customer’s fault.
- A management professional smugly declaring that she’s proud of the fact that she’s able to make at least one of her employees cry each week, and that’s she known around her work area as “the Queen Bitch.”
- An employee had her cubicle vandalized by an anonymous coward who used a Sharpie to write “retard” over a picture of her daughter (who has Down Syndrome) that was hung up in her cubicle.
- Another anonymous coward (this time on a website that I follow) directed a comment to the author of an article that simply said, “I hope that you get cancer and die.”
I’m always up for a good debate–really, I am.
But seriously, does anyone out there think that there is any possible scenario where it is okay to behave in any of the ways that I just described in the bullet points above? If so, please let me know because I’m open to hearing it.
But while I’m waiting to hear the indefensible other side of the story, here’s my side: People who engage in this type of behavior are actively making the world a shittier place for all of us.
I am sick and tired of all of the lame excuses too.
“Hey Shola, people can be assholes–that’s just the way it is.”
“Hey Shola, that’s life man–deal with it.”
“Hey Shola, just brush it off and move on–not everyone is a nice guy, you know.”
We cannot change the world at work, at home, or anywhere else, if we are unwilling to demand more from everyone, including ourselves.
There is no reason to believe that we can’t all live in a world where treating each other with kindness, dignity, and respect is the norm and not the exception.
At this point you may be thinking: Creating a nicer world is impossible. This dude is crazy…
Maybe I am, but I know what’s much crazier:
Before you dismiss all of this “nicer world” stuff as deluded optimistic crazy talk, here’s my response to you:
If enough people believe that it is important enough to have a world of kindness and civility, and they are willing to make their voices heard (that’s the part where most people slip up), it will happen. It has to happen.
Every revolution began with a crazy person who had a better vision for the world than the one he/she was currently experiencing.
Just so you know, I am totally okay with being that crazy person.
Ushering in the Era of the Nice Guy might seem like an enormous social shift (and it is), but we can no longer use the enormity of the task as an excuse to do nothing.
We can take action this minute by being the change that we want to see in the world.
Choose to smile. Be supportive and a team player. Say thank you consistently, and be sincere when you do it. Apologize quickly when/if you lose your temper. Refuse to use your loved ones as your emotional dumping ground whenever you have a bad day. Lead others by using a spirit of mutual respect instead of fear and bullying. Brighten someone’s day with a sincere compliment. Give people your undivided attention. And most importantly, treat all people (regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or any other silly reason that we use to separate ourselves) with kindness, dignity, and respect consistently.
Being nice to others has the power to change everything, and it’s up to us to make nice the new normal.
So far, so good?
Unfortunately, what you just read was the easy part.
It’s time to ramp up the difficulty significantly.
Step #2: Be Nice When No One is Watching
It’s easy to smile in someone’s face and put up the appearance of niceness–even some of the worst human beings alive are capable of doing what I described under Step #1. But here’s the real challenge:
Can you be nice when no one is watching?
Smiling a lot and saying “please” and “thank you” to other people’s faces means absolutely nothing if you’re a shady, cowardly, passive-aggressive, backstabbing, slithering snake behind their backs.
We all know of people who are only happy when they’re spreading gossip, doing the mean girl/mean guy routine, talking crap about others, or cowardly hiding behind a computer screen to say things that they would never dream of saying to someone’s face.
Make no mistake, the above behaviors are the calling cards of the biggest asshats of all.
Step #2 of officially making the world a nicer place requires us to raise our games significantly. And by “raise our games” I’m talking about doing something that Mom taught us all when we were 5 years old:
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
That is the best, and sadly, most under-used piece of advice ever created.
Verbally destroying people who we deeply dislike might make us feel good temporarily, but here’s a quote that I now have printed over my desk to stare at whenever I think about going down that sad route:
If a vessel contains acid and you pour some on an object, it’s still the vessel that sustains the most damage.” –Tim Ferris
Make no mistake, we are the vessel.
In the spirit of full vulnerability and transparency, please don’t think that I’m somehow above all of this.
I’m a work in progress, and I’ve engaged in this type of behavior more than I’d like to admit. But as my commitment to making the world a nicer place has grown within me, I realized that my behavior had to “grow up” too.
If I really want to make this world a better place–I mean, a much better place–then I have to do a hell of a lot more than just talk about it.
I must consistently be about it.
Let’s be real. I’m sure that there are people in your life who you believe don’t deserve your kindness.
Currently, I work with someone who is mean-spirited and is a flat-out bully (if you’re there too, I feel your pain), I have a neighbor who is a complete nightmare (maybe you can relate), and I have family members who drive me crazy once in awhile (I know that I’m not alone on that one).
Even so, I don’t have to make the destructive choice to fill my vessel with acid by being as much of a jerk as they are–especially behind their backs.
Fighting fire with fire is the most mindless phrase ever. Have you ever seen a fireman run into a burning building with a flamethrower?
Yeah, me neither.
Fire is beaten with water–not more fire, and definitely not acid.
Believe me, I’m all for venting to a trusted friend about a coworker, customer, boss, family member, (etc.) who is driving you insane–I don’t plan on giving that up. Hell, I think a solid venting session is good for our mental health. But, to avoid having the water in our vessels turn into acid, here’s how we need to do it:
- Vent fully and get the feelings completely out of our system.
- Immediately afterwards, stop spending any more negative thoughts/energy on that person.
- And (here’s the biggie), be the bigger person by limiting your interactions with him/her and wish the person well. This does not have to be done to the person’s face–doing it quietly to yourself is just fine.
This is why Step #2 of making the world a nicer place is so much harder than Step #1.
Being nice to everyone’s face is the easy stuff–seriously, I’m sure that Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and other hideously evil human beings were capable of handling aspects of Step #1 with relative ease on occasion.
The real challenge comes from being sincerely nice by doing so when no one is watching, and when we don’t feel like it.
I’ve fallen short on Step #2 way too often, but if I’m serious about making the world a nicer place, this step must be performed consistently. Harboring anger and resentment toward the various jerks in our lives doesn’t make us nicer people. In fact, all it does is cause us to walk through life rocking a permanent mean-mug while the poison inside of us continues to build.
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” -Buddha
Eventually the poison will eat us alive.
True kindness is going to require us to let go of resentment, anger, and bitterness.
And yes, it could require some serious practice on our part to finally get it right.
Hey, no one said that this “nice guy” stuff was going to be easy.
We still haven’t even gotten to the hardest step yet.
Step #3: Be Nice to You
Unfortunately, some of the nicest people in the world fail miserably at this final step.
I have known many amazing people who consistently handle the first two steps of the “niceness plan” like a champ.
They are nice to everyone who they encounter, they don’t engage in any cowardly backstabbing–but when it comes to offering the same level niceness to themselves, they are either unable or unwilling to do it.
For some reason, they believe that it is more important to be nice to others while neglecting themselves. Trust me, I’ve been there before (who am I kidding? I’m still there in many ways.)
This is the burden of the Nice Guy/Gal.
Sometimes when you’re nice to others and not to yourself, you’ll end up encountering people who will happily take advantage of your “niceness” and use you as a doormat.
That’s why we must honor ourselves by realizing that we are our own best friend–and more importantly, start acting like it.
Even though it’s obvious that the only people who appreciate doormats are people with dirty shoes, we still allow these people to wipe their stank, nasty shoes all over our backsides, even when we see it coming from a mile away:
- Your significant other loses his temper and yells at you because he knows that you’re too nice to do anything else but suck it up and deal with it.
- Your boss singles you out by overloading you with work and having you take on extra projects because he knows that you’re too nice to ask for the work to be spread equally among your coworkers.
- Your neighbor has raging parties at all hours of the night and has no plans of stopping because she knows that you’re too nice to say anything about it.
- Your friend keeps “borrowing” money from you because she knows that you’re too nice to ever ask her to pay it back.
If nothing else, please remember this:
Please read that again.
We teach others how to treat us.
When we’re nice to ourselves, we naturally treat ourselves with the love, dignity, and respect that we deserve. Once we do that, we’re in the perfect position to nicely deal with people who try to take advantage of us.
In case you were wondering, that “perfect position” is an upright position instead of lying face down in the dirt like a doormat.
Step #3 is the hardest step because we’ve been told all of our lives how important it is to put others first. We pour all of our niceness out to everyone else without considering the critical importance of leaving some of that niceness for ourselves.
Being liked by others is awesome, but
liking loving yourself is SO much better–especially if we are serious about making the world a nicer place.
That’s why the final step is the most important one, because we cannot be nice to others if we’re not nice to ourselves.
I’ll leave it to one of my favorite quotes to say it far better than I ever could:
There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” –Nathaniel Branden
Sounds about right to me.
The Niceness Revolution
The revolution is here, people. The Era of the Nice Guy is upon us.
I believe that there are millions of people who crave a world of civility, friendliness, positivity, mutual respect, and good ol’ fashioned niceness in the worst way.
I refuse to believe that I’m alone on this, but I guess that we’re about to find out once we get to the end of this post.
If you’ve read this far, you could be the spark at the beginning of something incredible.
You could be a part of a revolution that will make the world a nicer and more loving place for you, your kids, your friends, your neighbors, and for everyone.
If we’re going to put meanness, backstabbing, and self-hate out of style forever, it has to start with us believing that we can do it.
Every revolution started somewhere, and I want the start of this revolution to be here, now, and with us.
The alternative is that you could read the final few sentences in this post, think that this “Era of the Nice Guy” stuff is a cool idea (but totally unrealistic), and then forget all about it in less than 5 minutes.
That’s a very real possibility too.
The choice is yours, but I’ve already made mine.
I can promise you that with every fiber of my being that I am committing my heart, soul, and everything in my power to create a nicer and better world for you and me, starting now.
If you’re with me, then there’s really only two things left to do:
- Commit with me to live the 3 steps, starting today.
- Spread the word and get as many people as possible to do the same.
That’s exactly how the revolution will start. Seriously, it’s just about committing to those two things.
With all of that said, I guess now is a good time to tell you that I left the toughest question for last.
Are you with me?
Are you down with the challenge of making the world a nicer place? Which of the 3 steps in this post do you think will be the hardest for you to do consistently? Don’t hesitate to jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!