I want to be nice. Really, I do. But what’s more important to me these days is to be happy.
Unfortunately, I’m realizing sometimes the two are not inextricably linked.
Now, I know this might seem like it’s about to be a mean girl’s rant where I wave my finger in the air all indignant-like, but that’s not really where I’m going with this.
Life presents us with many instances where we all want to please others. It’s part of the human condition, and I would argue, especially part of being a woman. All people, and especially women, are taught that pleasing others makes us valuable…and it can make us feel great, too.
Helping and making others happy is an incredibly rewarding part of life, and I wholeheartedly believe that in many cases, doing things for others can feel wonderful for both for the giver and receiver.
But the kind of “nice” that might not always lead to happiness is the kind that happens when you do something because you think you should and not because you really want to.
I’m talking about picking up the slack at work because a colleague conveniently took an extra long lunch, or finishing sewing a friend’s Halloween costume because she was too hung over from her night out.
Sure, you were doing nice things, but were you feeling nice?
Sometimes, I catch myself doing the “nice” thing, but simultaneously feeling bitter and angry toward the person I am supposedly trying to help. I might end up helping, but in the worst way—with a sour face and whole lot of resentment. It’d be great if we were all such selfless saints that every time we did something for someone else it really was enough to make us feel great, too.
But hey, I’m no saint. And what I’m figuring out is that in order to be truly nice, I’ve got to make sure I’m happy.
When I’m treating my body well, getting enough sleep, and have time to spend with the people I love, I am way happier—and therefore way nicer. Yet, when I am constantly striving to “be nice” by saying yes when I don’t really have the time or energy, it ends up being a an act that ends in my own meltdown, or worse—taking it out on the people I care about, which is not nice at all.
Being nice is good. Being happy is better. The best is when we can truly share our own happiness with others, and this means setting healthy boundaries for ourselves.
Taking care of ourselves so we can be at our best also results in being better partners, friends, employees and everything else. Saying yes to others when it means saying no to ourselves ultimately ends bad moods and snappy remarks for everyone surrounding us. And imagine how “nice” we’d have to be to make up for that!
So, do everyone in your life a big favor: when it comes down to happy or nice, choose happy. Because it’s the nice thing to do.
Sashah Rahemtulla is a young woman learning to flow in the ocean of life. She currently lives in South Korea, teaches English and is awaiting the next wave of change. Read more on her blog.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang
Ed: Bryonie Wise