Kindness is rooted in love. Niceness is rooted in fear.
I kind of love psychology. I minored in it in college. And my tiny bit of knowledge from my 18 hours of college courses (adn a couple more in educational psych during my Masters), opened my mind to so many ways of considering people, making my judgements fair and balanced and also leading me to be a pretty good judge of character (IMO). This could also stem from my childhood- growing up in a “sandwich generation” house- my parents and also my grandparents living under one roof. This part of my childhood (ages 12-18) also lead to me seeing 3 family members in hospice care essentially under our roof and those near and dear go through the roller coaster of caring for the terminally ill.
ANYWAY, I think I learned the importance of being kind vs being nice in those two contexts. Also, leading me to the conclusion that being kind is more honest than being nice. When push comes to shove, niceties mean nothing, and honesty and kindness mean the world.
When I think of being nice, I think of doing it to please someone. Nice is graciously turning down a party invitation because you have “plans” when you don’t actually have plans but just don’t want to attend the party. Nice is complimenting someone because they complimented you. Nice is from a place of inadequacy and often, in my experience, leads to over extending oneself in order to please or creating lie after lie to cover your butt.
Kindness is so much BIGGER. Kindness is compassion and empathy. Kindness can be unconditional, it can have boundaries, it can be HONEST. And it can be for YOURSELF. Being kind is confident, rooted, and responsible. When I am kind to someone it is because I want to be, it is a choice I made to take the other person into consideration because I value them. Further, I try to be kind to myself before I am kind to anyone else. That is where the honesty comes in. You need to be honest with yourself to be kind to yourself. And conversely kind to your friends in order to be honest with them. In theory, your kindness allows people to extend their grace to you during your honest moments.
Have you ever heard of someone saying “I’m being nice to myself”? No. Usually its “I’m being kind to myself…”. Usually in the context increasing or limiting something one does not desire to continue. I’m being kind to by myself by eating more fruits and vegetables, I’m being kind to myself by limiting alcohol, I’m being kind to myself by resting, I’m being kind to myself by ending a bad relationship etc…. I think a lot if being kind to yourself deals with our mental health. And so, may I suggest switching your mindset to being kind in your everyday life instead of being nice.
Have I been nice in the past? Sure! Sometimes I still am. New situations and people bring out the niceness. We aim to please! But you know what, being “nice” isn’t going to get us the relationships we want. Kindness might not either, but I think its a better place to start.