A Little Nice Goes a Long Way

The woman at the front desk of the club where I swim smiles as I walk in.

“Good morning,” she says in a sing-song voice. I can’t help but smile back.

At the end of my swim, subdued and more peaceful than when I walked in, I walk toward the exit, but don’t leave before hearing, “Good bye! Have a nice day!” I can’t help but smile at her and say, “You too.”

I left feeling all sorts of good. What a nice person, I imagined. I bet she is loving to her family and a ray of sunshine to be around. Perhaps that’s not even true, but her niceties to me go a long way to imagining that she is, at the core, a very nice person who cares about others and just wants to impart kindness.

Contrast that with how many times I have issued complaint about rudeness or bad customer service or mean behavior. I don’t know if I have ever singled out a person for their kindness.

We should. I should call the club manager right away and tell her that the woman at the front desk is lovely and kudos to them for offering kindness from the moment someone walks in the door.

Every time my children are nice to one another, I should point it out and compliment them (I usually do). In fact, I should do that 10 times more than I criticize or offer “constructive criticism” (which is a horrible term – I mean really, what is constructive about criticizing someone?).

It should be the first thought in my head every morning – How much kindness can I proffer on others? How many compliments? How man smiles?.

After the prayer thanking God for giving me another day, another chance at life, another breath.

If you think about it, it is so complicated to be nasty. It takes so much more energy to spit venom in the direction of another. Think of the energy summoned to do so and then afterwards, ruminating over the fallout, wondering if they will ever forgive you.

So why not pour it all into being nice? A little nice goes a very long way.

Yesterday, I was driving home from shopping and noticed a funeral procession. The cars all had orange flags on their hoods and drove slowly in a single-file line. The law has it that a funeral procession trumps traffic lights, so they can all stay together in their progression toward the cemetery and the deceased’s final rest.

It’s a lovely law, and I found myself wondering why we don’t also offer such kindness to other drivers? To wedding limousines? To pregnant women about to give birth?

If we looked at the roadway as a mirror for interpersonal relations, I sure hope it wouldn’t be only when we have passed on that we offer the ultimate exception to all rules, the final kindness. I hope we can implement this in daily goings-on, because that is far more important.

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