Learning to Play Nice


Y’know…it’s ironic. I consider myself a nice person. I like to be happy and I like to make others happy, but more than that I want to inspire people to be better overall. I think that comes from cultivating a positive light within us that cannot be dimmed even when dark circumstances loom.

I’ve been through some stuff in my life and have been told, more than once, people don’t understand how I’m still standing after the trials I’ve been through. My first response is usually that I had no choice. What’s the alternative? You just get through it. Anyone else would do the same.

But the thing is, that’s not always true. Over the years I’ve realized that there is a stark difference between someone like me and some of the others who have gone through similar trials. It’s all about the attitude. I know someone in my own family who has gone through almost every identical trial I’ve been through but she’s turned into a bitter, lonely alcoholic who is verbally and physically abusive. She’s given up, for lack of a better term. Life sucks and there’s no point to do good, be good or aim for happiness. Life finally won.

Despite everything I’ve been through nothing has ever truly killed my boundless hope. I march through the icky stuff because I know something better is waiting on the other side. I refuse to give up. Life can be wonderful and beautiful… it just takes the purposeful actions of a determined few.

As such I started doing something a couple of years ago because of how much I believe in lighting our own candles to offset the darkness in the world. I truly believe in taking the higher ground and doing things progressive and positive even when faced with oppression. It’s meant a lot to me because this is the core of who I am as a person, as anyone who truly knows me will tell you. I have chronic Good Girl Syndrome. I like to help others, I like to do good… I like to spread happy.

Happy is good! I’ve been unhappy. It sucks. I don’t like to wallow there any longer than truly necessary.

Herein lies the irony: often by being this person I attract those to me who are not quite as good as they could be. They see opportunity rather than value. These people will be nice and supportive as long as you have something to offer… but the minute you dare to have your own mind or see through the games and BS all of a sudden you’re a threat that needs to be annihilated. That is when, even when you endeavor to be good to others, people aren’t so nice to you… and they make sure to influence others around you to do likewise.

To my dismay I’ve been battered by this bullshit for way too long now and I fluctuate somewhere between bitter and frustrated on a daily basis. Unfortunately life isn’t always fair and people like this can get away with short-term damage in a way that makes you doubt long-term universal justice. As such, I haven’t really been feeling warm and cozy to others. In fact, I have begun to regard everyone suspiciously as I figure out who is in it for “real” and who is just wanting to take advantage of opportunity rather than see my inherent value.

I’ve learned all too recently it’s VERY hard to figure out who is whom when everyone you meet is smiling at you and calling you “friend.” It’s only natural, then, to withdraw and hold myself back as a protective measure.

As a result this year was the first where I even considered backing away from doing what I normally (and successfully) do to make the world a better place. It’s been tough, and continues to be tough, for no other reason than some folks we share this planet with are just plain ol’ mean. The ugliness got a little too close to home and it affected me profoundly. It was not my first instinct to be sunny and happy and full of sunshine after people who called themselves my friends attempted to lay me to waste this past year. I’ve been angry and bitter and resentful – and thought about letting that affect the things I do to make the world a better place because I’m tired of those things being used against me. Honestly my first impulse is screw the world! From where I sit the world is ugly, nasty and full of users, posers and backstabbers. Right?? Why should I do even one more thing for anyone else, when it always seems to tear me asunder in the process?

But that’s not who I am, that’s never been who I am. I have my human moments but deep down I deeply and honestly believe in the power of positivity. Good always wins over evil, the universe is (eventually) just. I believe in doing good for no other reward than having done it. I believe in healing over hurting and forgiveness over revenge. So even when banished into exile from worlds where I used to be welcome, I decided to roll that dumb boulder back up the hill even when current circumstances could mean it would crush me on the way back down.

Some things are more important than my ego. I started a movement two years ago that was not and is not circumstantial… and when I feel least likely to be kind or good or NICE is when I need to stand behind it the most.

Because that’s the point.

In the last couple of years my International Nice(r) Day got a lot of mileage as hundreds of people felt that same call to honor those slain on 9/11 with a movement to be nice… to do good… to spread positivity and light. This year, however, it’s not drawing the same crowd. Maybe it’s the political climate we are currently in or maybe it has to be with a lot of the unnecessary BS drama I alluded to above.

Maybe it’s a mix of both.

Either way, it’s ironic that the year I need it the most is the year I need to fight for it the most. Or maybe it’s not ironic at all. Maybe the is the Universe’s way of testing my muster and giving me empathy and insight so that I can really answer a stronger calling in the future.

I’m encouraging the world to be nice when I don’t know what their struggles are, or how hard it may be to put aside understandable hurt and pain just to spread kindness. Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me to walk the walk.

No matter how hurt I am, how bitter, how resentful, how frustrated… in order to make the change I want to see in the world I have to BE the change I want to see in the world. And that will never ever happen allowing others to change me into something I’m not. So even if people lie about me, I must stand behind the truth. Even if I’m being used and manipulated, I have to strive even harder for authentic connections with those who are just as progressive as I am.

Even if people are being petty and mean…

I have to be nice.

That’s just the way it is.

So you can join me… or not. Maybe this year is the year only my true friends will stand up with me to do what I know is important to them (which is why we’re friends.) But even if I stand alone I have to do what I know is right.

They can try to tear me down but they can’t destroy me unless I let them. In the end right is right and good will win out and truth will prevail.

And niceness is never EVER wasted.

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