If you can’t be nice for other people, be nice for yourself

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed my math professor telling him that I really enjoyed his class and that he’s doing a fantastic job. He emailed me back offering me a job.

He wanted me to help him redesign his course. He says that the goal of the class has become unclear and because so many people take his class, making sure everyone learns the material and keeps pace with the class is hard. So he wants me to help him by redesigning class notes, helping him redesign his curriculum, and giving him suggestions that could make his class as good as possible. He also wants to put the course on edX sometime within the next year and wants me to help him migrate the class to be available in an online format.

Not your typical job as an undergraduate washing test tubes.

I was surprised. I was just emailing him to be nice. I figured that if I were the professor, I’d love it if students emailed me to tell me that I was doing a great job. Who doesn’t like compliments? Ultimately, he ended up giving me a job.

We all know we should be nice. We shouldn’t say mean things, we shouldn’t try to put people down. We should be nice because it’s good to be nice. But do you actively try to be nice? The biggest part of being nice is going out of your way to be nice for someone when you don’t have to.

It’s hard. It’s much easier to go on with your day than it is to go out of your way to be nice to someone. When you see someone that’s wearing a shirt you like, it’s much easier to not say a thing than it is to tell him, “nice shirt!”. But if someone told you that they liked your shirt, you’d appreciate it. So why not tell someone else that you like their shirt? You’d make them happy.

And if you don’t want to make someone else happy, there’s good news for you. By being nice, you also make yourself happy. Research from UC Berkeley shows that being nice to other people makes you happy as well. And the research isn’t surprising. It backs up your intuition. When you’ve gone out of your way to do something nice for someone else, you feel good.

If you’re having a bad day, the best thing to do is to be nice to someone. Tell someone that you like their shirt. Go buy food for a homeless person. Send someone a message telling him that you appreciate him. It’s hard to be nice when you’re not feeling well, but you’ll instantly feel better when you do something nice.

And these are things you already know. But it’s such an important part of life that sometimes you overlook. Especially if you’re in a rush, or aren’t having a great day.

We’ve all experienced times when we’re not nice because things don’t go our way. We’ve all experienced the rude worker at McDonald’s. We’ve all experienced the rude customer service representative. We’ve all been rude to the worker at McDonald’s.

Instead of being rude, let’s be nice. If you’re not normally nice, make yourself be nice. If you’re about to cuss out the McDonald’s worker because she messed up your meal, force yourself to be nice instead. Because nice people get better jobs. Nice people get better promotions. Nice people are better salesmenNice people get what they want. Being nice will make you happy.

I leave you with this video of a boy at a baseball game being nice. The boy was ecstatic that he caught a ball. But he sees that one kid is visibly upset from not getting the ball. So he goes down and gives that kid the ball. The boy catches the attention of the announcers and they love what he’s done. So they give him an autographed baseball bat of his favorite player and an interview. All for being nice.

So do something nice for someone. You might get a job. You might get an autographed baseball bat. But more importantly, you’ll get the satisfaction of making someone’s day. You’ll get the satisfaction that you positively impacted someone’s life. And when you positively impact someone’s life, good things will follow.

Happy Thanksgiving.


1 Comment

Filed under Self Improvement

One response to “If you can’t be nice for other people, be nice for yourself

  1. thechrissyt

    Well done for getting the job!

    You’re very right about giving feedback and being nice: teacher’s really appreciate being valued by their students!

    Enjoyed reading your blog!


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