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Monday, January 28, 2008

Nice is Out...

We live in a day and age in which 'being nice' is out. People second-guess motives, don't trust a random comment, outright believe that something a person says is an effort to manipulate or hurt them. What has happened to our society?

Sometimes I wish I lived in the 50s, when being nice was not only in, it was expected. Instead, no one believes it's possible today. Everybody wants something from somebody. But do they really? I don't think so. I believe we can chat with people without expecting something in return, that we can say thank you and mean it, that we can say you're sorry for someone's loss or hurting and truly believe it. But paranoia is a more normal emotion than compassion. Fear replaces empathy, and too close behind is apathy and anger.

This week, at least for a few days, think before you react. Take a deep breath before you assume something you're perceiving isn't what it seems. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Remember to take out your mirror before getting out your magnifying glass.

As a writer, it's hard to imagine a world without conflict…all stories revolve around it. But the nature of our world signals that if something doesn't reverse or take a serious turn soon, we're going to self-destruct. I, for one, often do things for no other reason than to be nice. And I know many people do. But the focus for many is on the self-serving belief that people are out to hurt them. The most important adage for most Americans is to understand that not everything is about them. We're a self-indulgent, self-absorbed, self-obsessed society. Being nice takes too much time, too much effort, and isn't the kind of attention many people want.

Imagine, though, the reaction of a person when they think they're going to get a ticket but they discover someone dropped fifty cents into their meter? You might not get credit, but you made someone's day. Leave a good book on the counter at the laundromat, pick up a stranger's tab at lunch, or simply offer a smile to someone today and tell them, "You look great today." The results beat the heck out of the effort.

Yep, being nice may not be vogue, but I prefer a world out of style than one with so much anger and hatred that you dread encounters with people immersed in it.

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