I was speaking with a colleague about this idea of being nice or courteous yesterday. And she said to me (and I am paraphrasing here), “We all know we should be nice, but we are human beings too, and 99% of our make-up is something other than ‘nice’.” She went on to cite a friend of hers who is a professional psychologist that commutes to and from work daily in grid-lock traffic at sometimes 2 mph for up to 2 hours. Obviously this must be an aggravating routine. She said one day he was so angry and agitated that he ran his cart into an elderly woman’s cart in the grocery store (I feel she was implying that this may have been less than accidental). Even this psychologist she said could not overcome his irritation to be nice, and my colleague asked me, “Aren’t we allowed those moments of being a human being?” 

Well, of course we are. There are plenty of things that aggravate us, hurt us, and try our patience. The question is, how does this man, or any of us, handle each of our experiences every day? How do we respond to others during those times when our frustration isn’t brimming over?  How do we treat our neighbor, our cashier, our friends, our families, or strangers?  How do we behave the majority of the time?

But also, I think it comes down to dignity.  That man must be a respected person to be associated with my colleague, whom I respect very much.  And in that weakened moment, he acted out of his emotions. Which is normal and understandable. But, I wonder, what about the elderly woman? Did she not deserve to be related to with dignity? Does a stranger deserve to be the receiver of our (often well-justified) frustrations when it had nothing to do with that person? Or does each stranger deserve to be treated with dignity, with respect? 

It is not easy to put aside our negative emotions to be considerate of others sometimes. But think of the positive effect you want to have on the world and try to embody that in your actions. And when the time comes that you cannot put aside your frustrations, recognize it and try to do better next time. After all, we are human–not perfect, but we are compassionate and capable of amazing accomplishments with the right efforts.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

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