Being nice to somebody might be the wrong way to be.
Miami Beach, Florida - You hear people all the time “oh he’s so nice,” “what a kind gesture,” “that’s a kind thing you did,” or “I try to be nice to everybody.”
At DreamCloud Psychiatry in Miami Beach we wanted to see if people thought there was a difference, and if so, if it made any difference about which they’d rather be.
“Nice is doing something good for somebody, being kind has more love behind it,” said one person. “Kindness lasts longer for the people who receive it. Anybody can be nice,” said another.
Mental health is a balance of good days and bad days - but sharing your time, optimism, and hope with others is something that can be contagious, inspiring, and maybe even life-changing for somebody.
After asking a small group of people, most agreed that acts of kindness symbolized a genuine sense of sacrifice — holding the door for somebody is “nice,” leaving a big tip is “nice,” letting somebody with one tomato cut the grocery line is “nice.”
Then everyone eventually agreed that being “kind” alluded to something more authentic than acts of “nice.” Which makes us question: when we do good things for others are we just doing it to be nice gor are we demonstrating true kindness?
A smile at a stranger is nice and certainly goes a long way. But stopping to help them could change the course of their day. Example. Holding the door for a wheelchair or stroller is nice, but offering to walk their groceries to the car - is kind.
I came to conclude that kind and nice are not only things we do for others, but also applies toward how we treat ourselves. Are you treating yourself with kindness? Are you giving yourself rest, health, encouragement, and nutrition? Or are you smiling at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how nice you look?
In this time of division and fear in the world, think harder about opportunities to help others. Anybody can do the minimum requirement but can you do more?
The world needs kindness and it starts with you. In the words of one patients struggling with starting over, “I just wish people could be genuinely kind and not just be nice to my face. Being nice is a half-ass contribution.”
Here at DreamCloud Psychiatry in Miami Beach, we believe that avoiding “nice” behaviors and focusing on more ways to show genuine kindness to others, is far more important and rewarding for your mental health.
Being nice is expected. That’s level one. Don’t stop there. Show kindness today.
Chris Lee PMHNP-BC