Being Nice versus Being Kind

The Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word nice is: to be pleasing, agreeable, delightful.

The Risa definition of nice is: being a people pleaser, easily manipulated, saying yes when you want to say no.

The Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word kind is: of a good, or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person; considerate, helpful, humane.

The Risa definition of kind is:  the same as the Webster’s dictionary.

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, I often hear people being described as nice.  I’ve never liked this word.  And it’s because of what I associate it with.  I’ve seen people in my life who have desperately wanted to be a nice person (not a bad goal, amiright?), and in their quest I saw them go out of their way to do things to make people like them, even if it made them feel badly about themselves.  I’ve seen people be manipulated or walked all over in an effort to be “nice.”  I’ve seen people who say yes to many requests even when they want to say no because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I don’t want to be liked.  I’m not a nice person.

What I want to be is a kind person.  A kind person is generous with their time, resources, and love.  A kind person has a genuine interest in the well-being of those around them.  A kind person is considerate of other people’s time and resources.  I kind person is humane.

I want to be a kind person.  I strive to be a kind person.

A kind person does not sacrifice their own dignity to be liked by someone else.  If you have to sacrifice any part of yourself just to make someone like you, they’re not worth it.  A kind person wants to have friends, but is not willing to change themselves, pretend to be someone they’re not, or debase themselves to get one.

A kind person doesn’t do constantly for others to their own detriment.  You know how on an airplane when the flight attendants are doing their spiel at the beginning of the flight and they tell you if the oxygen mask drops to put it on yourself before helping anyone else?  Well, that’s a great metaphor for life.  You can’t give any water when your own well is dry.  A kind person takes care of themselves first so they can take of others.

I’ve seen people let themselves be used, abused, and walked all over in an effort to be nice and not hurt anyone’s feelings.  This is total crap.  No one should allow themselves to be treated like this.  News flash:  Anyone who would treat you like that doesn’t really care about you no matter what they say!!!!!  A kind person knows when someone is trying to manipulate them, and they don’t let them.  They won’t let them.  A kind person loves themselves and loves themselves too much to let someone use and abuse them.  A kind person doesn’t need to walk all over someone, abuse them, use them, or manipulate them to get what they want or to feel powerful.  A kind person knows that their power is in how much they love and care about others.

These are my definitions of nice versus kind.  I try hard to be a kind person.  My parents taught me at an early age to say please and thank you.  Sometimes I over say them.  My parents taught me through their actions how to treat service workers.  I didn’t even realize that some customers treat service workers like crap until I was 18 and working at a Frozen Yogurt place and I customers treat me like utter crap just because they could.  My sister and I recently had a conversation about this and she said something along the lines of, how you treat people who are serving you is a direct indication of your “class.”

Once I changed my thinking of wanting to be a kind person instead of being a nice person, I’ve been so much happier.  I’m more generous with my time, resources, and love because I have a well built up from which to give.  Now that I don’t worry about doing things to make people like me, I’m free.  I can be kind, generous, giving, humane, and considerate without being nice at all.

I can reach out in compassion to a hurting friend or acquaintance without worrying if they’re going to like me more for it.  I can give generously to charities and not expect anything in return, except the knowledge that I was able to use whatever resources I have at my disposal to help someone. I can treat people better because I’m not worried about being “cool” or losing friends, or seeking the approval of others.

Whenever I find myself wanting to be “nice,” I have to stop and remember what a kind person does.

May we all have more kindness and less niceness in our lives.


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