Happiness Tip #5: Be Nice

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Have you ever been so frustrated with someone you just let them have it? Did you yell? Curse? Overreact? Did you feel better afterwards? Did you feel like you taught them a lesson or made them pay for their mistake? Or did you feel like crap?

I think more often than not, when we react un-kindly, we feel like crap or, at the very least, we don’t feel any better and the person we reacted against feels a lot worse. So what’s the point. The short answer is – there isn’t one. Even if we feel like we’ve been wronged or someone else didn’t do their job correctly and we suffered, we not only rob others of happiness but we also rob ourselves.

Being nice isn’t always easy. Sometimes we have to choose to be nice when our inclination is to enforce justice, make someone “pay,” or “show someone who’s boss.” But we have the choice. We can choose to bring someone else down and bring ourselves down in the process or  we can choose to be nice and, at the very least, preserve our own happiness.

Being nice and showing kindness is scientifically linked to happiness. Your overall health is positively impacted by having positive emotion or thinking nicely about others – it’s proven. So, if your own health and happiness is directly improved by being nice, it seems rational to behave nicely and act with kindness even when you don’t feel another person is deserving of it.

Life it tough sometimes. Everyone struggles. Everyone has “off” days. I think we would all be happier if we just give each other a break. We can practice niceness both re-actively and proactively. If someone messes up your coffee order, the world is not going to end but if your reaction is to fly off the handle and make sure the barista “hears a piece of your mind about it” then your day will get crappier and they will certainly feel crappier which results in a lot of unnecessary crap!

From a proactive perspective there are hundreds of ways to be a nicer person and therefore a happier person.

Here are 15 easy ways to practice niceness (some of these may seem like examples of common decency but honestly, I’m not sure common decency is so common these days so we all could use a reminder)

  1. Laugh at someone’s joke even if you don’t think it’s funny.
  2. Hold the elevator for someone
  3. Tip your waiter/waitress well (even if you don’t think they deserve it)
  4. Give a sincere compliment
  5. Smile more
  6. Offer help when you see someone struggling with a task
  7. Practice random acts of kindness (pay for the lunch of the person behind you at the drive through, shovel your neighbors driveway after it snows, etc.)
  8. Ask someone how they’re doing and actually listen to the response – be genuinely interested
  9. Remove yourself from gossip – it’s a negativity trap!
  10. Agree to disagree… if a conversation gets touchy or you fundamentally disagree with someone, it’s ok… just re-direct the conversation in a positive direction and move on
  11. Treat others how you would like to be treated (ah, the Golden Rule…it’s a good one)
  12. Be polite – say please & thank you
  13. If someone is rude to you take note of how it makes you feel and use it as a reminder not to perpetuate the rudeness
  14. Hide notes of encouragement for your spouse, children or even strangers (I know it sounds creepy, but it will make their day!)
  15. When someone does a good job, let them know!

And one last word of advice from the always entertaining – Kid President (this kid knows his stuff!)

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – Dalai Lama

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