So this December when children everywhere are contemplating their fate to determine which side of Santa’s List they will appear on, I thought I’d take a closer look to find out why being nice has fallen by the wayside and being naughty has become the new aspirational goal.
1. Being nice does not mean you have to be a doormat. People sometimes confuse being nice with being a wallflower or a doormat. The type that lets everyone walk all over them. This is absolutely not the case. Being nice does not mean you must be agreeable all of the time or play the martyr. You can be nice and still be real and true to yourself as well as others. Being nice simply means being considerate and respectful. It also implies that you take a moment to put other people’s feelings before your own and that you act with civility.
2. Only the good die young. Billy Joel’s famous last words remind us that if we are good (nice), then our time on this earth is limited. Could there be some truth to this phrase? How else do we explain the untimely deaths of everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Elizabeth Edwards? On the flip side, think about how many rat bastards (naughty people) seem to stick around forever virtually unharmed! Unconsciously, perhaps this is encouraging us to err on the side of naughty to ensure we’ll live well into our nineties!
3. Do not confuse the word “nice” with wallflower or milquetoast. A nice person may surprise you. If someone is described as nice, it does not mean they are meek or timid or even unassertive in their nature. It may simply mean that they have mastered the fine art of socialization. Their intentions are not calculated or cold. They do not have to resort to anger or crazy behavior that is typically associated with being naughty or nasty. They are just naturally able to make others feel good while still getting what they want or achieving their goals.
4. Nice guys finish last. The term “nice guy” originated in the dating world to describe a man who was emotionally supportive, kind and considerate towards women. The nice guy was the man who got the woman in the end because he was the marrying kind and would make a good father to their children. Rather than spend a lifetime of heartache and headache chasing the naughty boys, wise women learned to settle down with the nice guy who treated them with respect and put them on a pedestal. Note: Don’t underestimate the nice guy, just because they’re nice doesn’t mean they don’t know how to get naughty in the bedroom.
5. It is the nice thing to do. We are constantly being told this phrase by others. Parents especially like to impress this upon their children to teach them how to behave in the world. Oftentimes, these words come across as patronizing and actually have the opposite effect making us want to do the naughty thing instead just out of spite. Rather than making this feel like a chore, we have to begin internalizing the act of being nice to thereby make it feel more automatic. With practice, it should feel more comfortable and natural.