In college, a group of us living in the same apartment developed a shorthand to describe anything without meaning: so cute, so nice. It grew out of an anonymous compliment, holding no merit outside of a passing impression.
Our “so cute, so nice” phrase kept me thinking. Would someone who truly knows me say that I’m nice? And if that’s a characteristic that I possess, I’d much rather read as kind.
Niceness can be passive, unremarkable. Surface level. It can be an afterthought. It spills out of our mouths with good intentions in order to fill a void. The neighbor is nice. The weather is nice. Taking a stroll around the city is nice. When paired with fleeting positions, the nice label can keep things at a distance.
Think about the things we hold most dear – would they be labeled with such timid language? What is the magical thing that takes us over the “nice” threshold and into “kind” territory?
Kindness is an action. And it takes courage. Kindness is making a decision to place others above ourselves, if even for a moment. It is the difference between acting and reacting. It’s as big as giving up our own needs and as small as sending an encouraging text. There is no room for sitting back or passing the baton here. There’s passion in kindness in its quietest form.
Kindness is an action. And it takes courage.
Striving for kindness is important and has some wonderful side effects. It’s life giving. Even small gestures can chip away at the steeliest exterior – of another or even our own. With kindness, we move with purpose and in such a way that lifts others up alongside us. In a cultural climate where we’re too quick to put up boundaries and draw lines, kindness can be a powerful tool to soften hearts when we need it the most.
Kindness isn’t something we inherently are or aren’t. We build it up. We shape our intentions and therefore our actions. So, lets seek to push for a little bit more in our everyday, and spread kindness with intention.
How do you see the difference between being nice and kind?
Image via Sara Forrest