A few years ago a friend of mine, let's call her Sally, had been dating someone for a couple of weeks when she told me she realized she didn't see herself with him long term, though he was quite smitten with her. They'd been set up by friends so she really gave the relationship time to blossom - and it didn't.
However, she was struggling with ending it. Because let's be real - breaking up is the worst!
She and I met up for drinks in the midst of all of this and she said: "part of me just wants to be nice and stick it out a little longer for him...he's so happy we're together."
Then I said something profound - something I hadn't thought of before:
"Nice is different than kind."
Why nice is different than kind?
To be "nice" is surface level. It's small talk. It's a glossing over of feelings. It's maintaining the status quo.
To be kind is the harder but more impactful road. To be kind is deep. It's choosing to say difficult words. It's honest, raw, and powerful. Kindness is authentic and sincere.
In her situation nice would mean sticking around so as not to hurt his feelings in the short term. It would be fake smiles, and projecting feelings she didn't really have.
To be kind would mean facing her feelings and telling him sooner rather than later. While it would be more painful at first - it would be fairer and the kinder choice in the long run.
I mean, who among us wants someone to pretend to want to be with us, EVEN for the sake of our feelings. Because honestly, we'll be hurt at some point anyway when we finally find out they don't want to be with us.
Now I want to pause at this point to say: my friend, Sally, is one of the kindest and most generous human beings I know. Her hope to not hurt his feelings was born out of her kind heart. I love you Sally! <3
We can all fall into that trap!
However, I think we can all fall into the trap of choosing nice instead of kind. We choose what is easier for the moment because life is damn hard and can be a complicated mess.
And while this example is about breaking up, this lesson can be applied to all parts of our lives:
Choosing to tell a friend the truth when they ask the hard questions.
Choosing to honor commitments and not overbook yourself (my hand is raised on this one - I tend to promise TOO much of my time and have difficulty delivering).
Choosing to do the dishes even though your partner promised they would and NOT making a big deal out of it.
Kindness is also born out of loving moments:
It's reaching out to give words of love and encouragement when they are least expected.
It's holding the hand of a loved one in a difficult time.
It's loving each other wholeheartedly.
So ask yourself this question when deciding on a course of action for any situation: Is this nice or kind? Because nice is kind of a lie.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. - Dalai Lama
With love & tea,