Let me stop you before you try to stop me. I imagine that you’re holding your hand up to immediately state that it’s impossible to be nice in a world where you are surrounded by mean people. “It’s a dog eat dog world,” you’re trying to shout over me, forgetting that neither of us is a dog and also ignoring the fact that dogs themselves rarely eat one another. What kind of dogs are you hanging out with?
You can’t stop me, though. I woke up this morning. Like, this is the first day in the year 2023 where I actually feel all the way awake. The sun is shining, it’s warmer than it has been in days, the birds are singing so much — I knew that I needed to improve the world today, too. So I am here to inform one and all that it’s easy to be nice. It’s so easy. It’s easier than anything else!
Maybe you don’t know me well and are noting that I write for a website that is a campaign for sneering. Or maybe you do know me well — too well — and are aware that I am fluent in the languages of Snark and Sarcasm. But listen. Even though I am snide, haughty, and engage in gossip, and even though I don’t feel like a particularly nice person most of the time, I have been informed time and again that I’m perceived as Nice. I reckon that must mean that being nice is simply the absence of being an active jerk actively jerking people around. It is disconcerting to know that there are apparently a lot of people out there who are suffering mistreatment at the hands of the mean.
Mean people, aren’t you tired? Knowing what I know about behavior and existence, what you’re doing sounds exhausting. Luckily, it’s simple to stop such habits. It’s as simple as choosing to do nothing instead.
Some of you might be all set to defend mean people. I have heard from more than one person that an incredibly toxic person in their life has “had a hard time.” Pity that monster for they can’t stop being horrible to everyone. It is all they’ve ever known! Their trauma means that they get a free pass to traumatize others! My eyes can’t roll hard or fast enough when I hear that sad song. I have known people in bad lives who are still kind and generous, I always counter. If you believe that everyone else deserves to suffer because one particular person has suffered, then you have been manipulated, my friend. Those are their words coming out of your mouth. Sorry to let you know this way, in front of all these people who are simultaneously reading these words.
I’m sick of human society being a bucket of tiresome interpersonal turmoil. It’s so displeasing to observe the world, with all the victims and villains acting out their stories which are as old as time. So much strife, so much struggle. Drama loses its luster when it’s just the same old story over and over again.
I suspect that a lot of awful people are awful because they have no imagination and can’t conceive of an easier life. Maybe they believe in soap operas. Maybe they think reality programming shows normal human behavior. Maybe these things are turning personality disorders into the new norm, but I haven’t been convinced of that quite yet. Just please allow me to explain just how easy it is to be nice.
And be sure to silently forward this article to any irritating meanie in your life. You don’t need to explain why.
It’s not uncommon for bullies to mock someone that they believe is an easy target. From appearance to interests, the marks are ridiculed into the ground and all sorts of sad feelings subsequently arise. Their joy is dimmed, they feel foolish, they believe that they are now less-than. And what does the bully gain? Almost certainly they are just being like that to amuse themselves. Bullying is a social sport, and the antagonizer is pretty much just passing time. It’s a hobby to rain on someone’s parade. You could even believe that there is an art to it.
Turning off all feelings of compassion or empathy is a choice though and not one you need to choose. It’s so much easier to not do any of that. You don’t even have to have compassion for that nerd you would ordinarily have destroyed with clever insults. I guarantee you that sitting in bored silence takes less effort than bullying someone — it takes no effort at all! Not engaging with someone you don’t particularly like? Why, it’s the simplest thing in the world. Plus, it can even feel good to not bother. You will look around you, at the clouds, and realize that you are now astride a high horse who is ambling along the high road. It feels great up there.
Don’t Take Advantage
Have you ever been around a person who compulsively steals? Are you such a person yourself? You’re annoying to be around, buster. If you see an opportunity to steal, just don’t. The world doesn’t belong to you. Understand the basic concept of what ownership is and abide by it. Similarly if you see a chance to gain an unfair advantage, don’t take it. I know that WC Fields said to never give a sucker an even break, but I would go so far as to say why NOT? Just because there is a sucker born every minute, what business is that of yours?
If you get a well-deserved reputation for swindling people, then they avoid you and you’re alone and you have to do a redemption arc or have to find a whole new set of friends and that’s all so TIRING. Just don’t even start that path when you know what the end of it is. Have you no ability to see consequences of actions? That troubles me.
Kindness Is Not A Weakness
Unsettling fact ahoy: there are people who exist who are so twisted that if they see someone being kind, they believe them to be some sort of rube who deserves to be taken advantage of, as in the last section. This is more than taking advantage though. It is actively trying to corrode some goodness left in the world. They meet a gentle spirit on the road of life and think, “gross. It is my duty to spoil their day.” Why though? IMO if you need to be cruel and vile, target people who are as terrible as yourself. If you are going to make a sport of being awful, then I challenge you to engage in this on a level playing field. When you are cruel to the sweet, it’s not even a fair fight and that is very lame. Leave those sweet little daisies of the world alone.
This might be a good time to remind you aspiring nice-ists out there that you need to set boundaries so that the un-nice dont try to use it against you. Of course, that is something which they shouldn’t be doing because what a waste of time, as I’ve been saying. What a waste of life.
Some people would say that not speaking your mind about how dumb someone’s likes are is a form of “lie of omission,” and I’m not going to argue that one out. Being truthful doesn’t have to include being hurtful, and it’s not hard to tell the difference once you get started. But there are people who lie for sympathy, lie about love in order to take advantage, lie about intentions, and all kinds of things. Lying creates a big cobwebby mess out of your life, and the lives of those you have lied to.
Imagine the stress as every day you expect to be discovered. The stress of knowing that it’s likely you will have to face the most unpleasant music. And if you don’t care if you are caught because you lie so much that you are just sowing confusion, like some people in political positions of power seem to do — well, I’m fairly certain that any house of cards will ultimately collapse. That’s another tale that is as old as time.
Anyway, no matter why you may lie, you have to remember what you’ve said and deal with eventual consequences. Why even put forth such effort when you can get results more easily (and less messily) through honesty?
The Matter of Cheating
People cheat their romantic partners all willy nilly either because they believe they deserve it, or because they have no impulse control. When we are three years old we learn about instant gratification and how it isn’t that gratifying. Or we should have learned that. Do you want to look like your mind stopped developing when you were a toddler? Gross.
It might be the least easy of these hot simple tips, to not Be Easy, but it is undeniable that life itself is a lot easier without the outrageous complications that are attached to infidelity. Even if you are incapable of experiencing guilt to the extent that you’re not exactly sure what it is, I know that you understand how annoying it is when your stability in life is disrupted because your significant other is furious and through with you. Even if you aren’t sorry for what you’ve done, you’re sorry when you are thrown right in the trash where you belong with the other trash.
I know to not filth-cheat requires self-control and forethought, but trust me on this one. Life is easier when you don’t indulge in this particular way. And if you can’t keep your pants on, just join up with some polyamory group and live in bliss — it’s the modern times, you’re allowed.
And if you cheat because you like the thrill of cheating, just throw yourself in the trash. Stick with being alone like you deserve.
Revenge Is A Dish Best Not Served
You can hold a grudge for eternity (I sure do) but it takes up so much energy and time to plant seeds of your enemies’ destruction. Actually going out of your way to ruin their reputations through vicious rumor-mongering, their home lives through methods of fear, their sense of peace through methods of intimidation, et cetera, requires lots of planning and a lot of energy. In many cases, revenge involves lots of dealings and doings, and maybe even some laws could be broken if you are of such a temper.
Did you know that cold indifference takes hardly any energy at all? Let these alleged wrongdoers destroy their own lives and reputations, they’ll do it to themselves eventually anyway. And if they don’t ever experience a comeuppance, you might have to self-reflect and find out that it was you who was the difficult person, and that you have been throwing a fit over a simple misunderstanding. Imagine how much drama-trauma you have avoided by not attacking an innocent person who feels that maybe you were the wrongdoer. Imagine!
Just Be Polite
You don’t have to believe in the best of everyone. You can even know someone is awful and actively trying to pull one over on you. It doesn’t mean you should let them, or that you can’t stop them. If a person is being an absolute shithead, honestly say as much, and explain that you’ll be icing them out now — or simply just ice them out. You don’t have to make an entire fuss over it. You don’t even have to insult them. Here, just print this postcard out and mail it to them, or hand it to them in silence:
These things combined with other things a pleasant person has (read any of our articles on Mr Rogers) gives you the reputation of being thoroughly Nice. The fact is that you are just thoroughly efficient and careful with your energy, but it isn’t polite to argue with anyone giving you a compliment. Just thank them. Being the bare minimum of what it takes to be a decent human being is apparently worthy of note. It is the ground floor of personality-having, yet so many people apparently can’t even manage that. What I’ve described in this article is the neutral reading on the base/acid chart of human qualities and it feels like you’re exerting as much power as an old hollowed out log on a forest floor.
Once you’ve figured out how to be Nice, you can actually put forth a little positive effort and be a fuckin saint.