Being nice isn’t really all that hard. It’s simple, honestly, and it extends beyond just our friends and family. Because strangers deserve niceness, too: the people who drive our public transit and get us home, the people who hold the door an extra second so we can get inside, the people who surround us every day that, whether we may know it or not, may be having a bad day. How many times have you been having an off day that was made worse by a rude coworker or someone who cut you in line at Starbucks? Let’s change that to making people’s days by trying to be on our best behavior, no matter what.
Here’s what to do first: say thank you. Thank you. It’s such a powerful yet underused phrase in today’s world. Sure, any well-mannered individual will murmur a quick “thanks” or “thank you” as they grab their latte from the barista as a way to fill the silence, but I’m talking about more than just avoiding awkwardness. I’m talking about thanking the bus driver or train ticket collector who works hard so that you can get home from work or school quickly and safely. Saying a quick “thank you” to that person who is typically ignored may actually brighten their entire day. Wouldn’t you want to feel appreciated for doing your job well?
Next, let’s try to cut down the drama. Sure, everybody loves a juicy gossip session at lunch but more often than not that gossipy chit-chat reduces someone that you know. Doesn’t that make them just as welcome to gossip and spread rumors about you? We’re all guilty of indulging in some side-talk about coworkers or friends, but replacing that conversation with something else will put you and whoever’s being gossiped about in a better place. And hey, karma.
Lastly — and this one may be the hardest — go out of your way to make someone else’s day. This may sound like a lot of work or not worth it to you, but it’s easier and more rewarding than you think. Imagine that taking 2 minutes out of your day could turn someone else’s around. You can. See someone eating alone at lunch that you don’t normally talk to? Be bold and reach out to them; that person will appreciate you and you’ll feel good about it. See someone running toward the elevator that you’ve just hopped into as you’re running late for class? Chances are, that person’s late too and you could really help them out by holding the elevator door instead of having it close in their face.
It’s time to start being nicer to everyone and it’s easy, too. It’s as simple as sharing a smile with the people you pass as you walk down the street or see in the next car over at a stoplight. You’ll be happy you did.