You might live in a tiny neighborhood, but you’re a member of a world community—and the world is looking for some really good ambassadors. In this day and age, with the planet on shaky ground, with racism running rampant, with fears of terrorism threatening everyone’s safety and security, with ecological and spiritual challenges on everyone’s list of concerns, with our peace of mind being held for ransom, it’s not enough to be neutral, it’s not enough to not have the intention of being mean. Being nice in the world means you must have the intention and the constant, consistent focus to be nice. Here are three ways to start being nicer and making a difference in your own community.
1. Take Time to Educate Yourself
We live in a colorful, diversified world. Because some cultures, countries, traditions, and languages are foreign to us, our ignorance can get in the way of presenting ourselves as nice, sensitive individuals. Take time to educate yourself so as not to be offensive by using the wrong terminology in referring to different races or ethnic groups. Be sensitive by using politically correct terms.
2. Be Nice to People Who Aren’t Nice to You
It’s easy to be nice when everyone’s nice to you. It would be easy to be nice if you were never “flipped off,” or yelled at by a stranger for no reason, or called a name, or made the victim of a racial slur. It would be easy to be nice while on vacation in Maui, where almost everyone is relaxed and away from the pressures of day-to-day life. But being a nice person in rush-hour traffic can be a bit of a challenge.
When someone isn’t nice, it’s natural to want to put them in their place. You want the last word, and you want to let them know of their infractions. There’s nothing wrong with “clearing” with an individual whom you believe has wronged you. But there’s another way to handle the situation so you don’t feel victimized and so you can preserve your peace of mind. How do you do that? By not even allowing the offensive comment or action to get in. You can do that by immediately changing your perception of the experience.
The thing to realize is that you choose your attitude in every situation. Perhaps you don’t have much control over what happens to you in life, but you do have control over—and are therefore responsible for—your reaction to what happens to you. You’re responsible for your experience of the experience.
3. Follow the Laws
Oh, the ways in which we justify our actions. We live in a society that relies on lawmakers to tell us what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is not. We figure, “I didn’t do anything illegal, so my actions are acceptable and justifiable, even if they weren’t nice.”
Yes, we want to make sure our actions don’t violate the laws of the land, but we also have other laws to live by. There are laws of nature, laws of the mind, laws of the heart, laws of religion, and so on. There’s also karma, which basically means you get what you deserve—and have you noticed that karma comes along a lot sooner than usual these days?
I don’t know about you, but I figure that there are intelligences out there that have more power and wisdom than me, and that all these different laws exist for reasons I may never comprehend—nor do I need to in order to yield, and even surrender, to their existence and effect on me. To think that the only laws we have to live by are the ones written down in law books, while we ignore all others, is a frightening proposition. Being nice means we might also want to make sure we’re in line with all the other sets of laws, because they all play their role.