Finding It Hard to Be Civil? Refill Your Reservoir!


There's a lot of talk in the news these days about the absence of civil discourse. People are being so mean – in person, online, and in the media. What will it take to turn things around? Can one person make a difference? Is there anything YOU can do?

The answer is easier than you might think: be nice, be nice, be nice! Start by thinking before you speak, and ask yourself: Is it nice? Is it necessary? Is it true?  Would you want it to be said about you?

If you're finding it hard to be nice right now, maybe you can start by being nice to yourself and refilling your reservoir.

Go Through the Motions

To build your own gifts of happiness, joy, purpose, and fulfillment so you can offer them to others, and then validate more of those gifts for yourself, sometimes you might have to go through the motions of offering yourself gifts that you don’t believe you deserve.

If you knew your lover had had a bad day, you’d want to do something about it, wouldn’t you? Knowing that he or she was coming home from work, you might draw a nice bath, light candles around the bathtub, and place special salts or oils in the bathwater. Maybe you’d put on some soft music, turn down the lights, and turn the telephone ringer to “off.” You’d then greet your lover boy or lover girl at the door to grab their briefcase or purse, hand them a glass of wine, and send them in to take a well-deserved, melt-your-stress-away, long, relaxing bath. You’d do that for a lover, but when was the last time you did it for yourself? When was the last time you treated yourself with such respect and love?

My challenge for you and for myself is to just go through the motions. Tonight, you might be sitting in that bathwater thinking, What the hell am I doing here? That’s okay. Eventually, actions become habits, and habits become part of your personality, which builds your character and turns you into the type of person you were always meant to be, filled with blissful happiness and purpose.

Refill Your Reservoir

Cup your two hands together as though you were going to splash water on your face. Your two hands together represent your reservoir. Your reservoir is filled with everything that makes you who you are, everything that makes you wonderful. Your reservoir contains your dreams, your fantasies, your personality, your passion, your talents, and your skills. Do you ever feel at the end of the day that your reservoir is drained and empty? How does it get drained? Traffic. Bad weather. A new computer system at work. Your boss’s bad mood. Depressing stories on the news.

How do you fill your reservoir back up? You could have it filled by having a customer or a friend send you a dozen roses, but can you count on that? You have to know how to fill your own reservoir. And by the way, what works for someone else may not work for you. One of your missions in life is to find out what fills up your own reservoir.

For me, my reservoir gets filled with a wonderful dinner out with a dear friend or two, in a small, quaint restaurant, with a bottle of wine and great conversation. That fills up my reservoir like you wouldn’t believe. I bet I spend more money doing that than I spend on buying clothes or taking vacations. Also, for me, going to the gym with my best buddies will fill up my reservoir. There’s something amazing about doing something that’s so good for me and motivating someone I care about to do something good for them, too. And don’t even get me started on how fabulous the conversations are between our sets of exercises. 

The bottom line is that you have to make sure your needs are met, and sometimes the best way to make that happen is to meet them yourself.

From Be Nice (Or Else!) by Winn Claybaugh