Generally, the world appears to enjoy nice people. We seem to like niceness very much and depend on it even more. Why then, do so many say “Oh, you’re just too nice.” Like it’s a very negative thing.
I’ve heard this a bit. And I’ve said it a lot. What exactly though is the assumption behind the negativity here?
Is it because we assume that by being nice a person isn’t committed to success? And obviously this is so incredibly important in our capitalist society. However much we are committed to success, for long periods of our lives we are intensely vulnerable creatures wholly at the mercy of the gentleness of others. We are only ever able to be successful because other people – usually our mothers – have given up a good share of their lives to being nice to us.
Is it because we assume that by being nice, a person isn’t going to be living an exciting life? This could be true. But all feelings – like excitement – are just phases. Things that fleet and pass. Personally, I wouldn’t find anything more sterile and dull than a demand that life be constantly exciting. I’m more inclined to mix it up with some napping.
Or is it just because a person who is being nice is a ‘pushover’? The assumption that a person unable to assert their power is a nice person?
Or maybe the person who is nice just doesn’t have any opinions at all? Maybe they just go with the flow all the time.
Here’s another possible idea. Perhaps the person who is being nice, has gone through particular experiences that has led them to the point where they believe that behaving in a nice manner is the best thing they can do for themselves, for others and for their community?
Perhaps that experience might be some form of tremendous upheaval? They have experience in how to offer genuine words of encouragement and kindness because they have had to become their own biggest cheerleaders. They are the ones who have had to talk themselves out of bed in the morning and off the floor at night. They are the ones who have fiercely fought their own demons. They are the ones who are brave and introspective. Who have successfully and excitedly made things change. The opposite of dull, boring and complacent. They want to do better and be better. They want things to change.
There could be all sorts of things hiding behind being nice.
It is entirely possible though, that too much of a good thing might not work. Like most good things. If we get caught up in too much niceness it could backfire.
If we compulsively say “yes” to everyone else’s wants and needs we’re going to experience greater levels of stress and emotional burnout. We’ll spend all our energy trying to make others happy and we’ll forget to take care of our own wants and needs.
With niceness, it’s about knowing why we’re behaving in this way. Do we behave in this way because we genuinely want to? Or is it because we are expected to or because we are desperate for positive attention? If it’s the latter, we’re going to run into problems with anger and resentment.
But I’m a bit advocate for niceness. If we know the motive for it and it is coming from a place of strength, balance and understanding, there’s no such thing as being too nice.