Liar, liar, pants on fire

Most people would agree, lying isn’t nice. But, is that entirely true? And is withholding and lying the same thing?

I think this is a complex issue. My boyfriend is withholding from me just what my Christmas present is this year. Is that bad? Parents let their children believe Santa is real. Is that so horrible? What about the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?

What if someone entrusts you with a secret, say a surprise bday party for a mutual friend? Shouldn’t you “play stupid” if your soon-to-be-aging friend starts to catch on?

Or, your girlfriend loves loves loves these shoes she wears. No one has the heart to say that they make her walk funny. Do you lie, or tell the truth?

What if your friend is dating someone that you think is less-than-great—and you have a good reason for your opinion?

Where is the line between little white lies, and serious lying that isn’t so nice?  When is withholding your opinion considerate, and when does it do more harm than good? How much of lying could be avoided by tactful honesty? When is lying justifiable because telling what you know would mean “butting your nose in?”  When is lying acceptable and when is it downright wrong?

When honesty is the best policy, how do we navigate being good people in a world innundated with little white lies and big fat lies?

Any thoughts?


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

Be Nice… to yourself

So, perhaps you’ve picked up on the fact that being nice doesn’t necessarily stop at social courtesy. Being nice usually entails one being compassionate, considerate, and outwardly aware. This is not always easy to do.

Most people are trying to improve the quality of their lives, and in many circumstances this means improving oneself.  Some people (like myself) are perfectionists about it, and the cycle of self-critique and outward-critique is never ending and often hinders the growth we are strivng for. Some people work so hard to achieve things that it wears on them to the point they get sick or their quality of life dwindles unnoticed.

And when these things happen, being nice to people can seem impossible. That’s when it’s time to be nice to yourself. Remember this:

1. No one is perfect. While it is commendable to try to be the best person you are capable of being, making allowances for the times you aren’t 100% nice/compassionate/considerate/focused/et cetera is a very important part of personal growth. This is self-forgiveness and self-compassion. This is self-awareness at its highest level. In the end, those that accept they are human while simultaneously reaching evermore toward effective self-improvement usually yield the most positive results in their lives (and the lives of others) overall.

2. Listen to your body and spirit. Don’t run yourself into the ground. Take an R & R day. Take 5 minutes to relax and clear your mind. Go spend a few bucks on your favorite smoothie or coffee. Take the time to cook a really exciting new meal for yourself. Be present to the moment you are currently in. Do things like these when you have reached your limit for the simple sake of self-preservation. And then you will likely have more energy to move on with your day and you will likely be more purposeful and genuine in all that you do.

3. It is all a balancing act. What is most important to you? What is next in line? What can slack off a bit? What can you do to make your day a little better? How can you make mundane tasks a little more enjoyable? How can you make a sad day brighter?

So when you go out and try to be courteous, but nothing seems to work; when you feel down and then feel guilty because you are such a drag to be around; when you snap at someone you love without meaning it; when you forget something important because of over-working yourself; when you just don’t have the energy to be 100%, be nice to yourself. You know you deserve it.  And once you’ve had enough of that, you’ll head out into the world refreshed, a little more capable, and ready to be more effective than if you had simply pushed through. 🙂


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.


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. (, 2008-2009.