Being nice is only half the battle. Everybody is nice much of the time. When we go through moods and people try us, it makes it harder to be nice. If we are having trouble being nice, we should work extra hard not to be mean. It is good to practice being nice and not being mean to strangers, people we like, people we don’t like, our families and ourselves.
With strangers it’s fairly easy to be nice or mean. People in cars often forget not to be mean and they will curse out a fellow driver for neglecting to signal a turn. People sometimes forget to be nice and are mean to people in the service industry. They may feel within their rights to shout at people who bring them food, or who try to help them with their purchases, if something doesn’t go quite right. These people who practice being mean to strangers will also let their meanness slip out toward people closer to them. It is their habit.
If you are not prone to being mean to strangers you may run into more trouble as you interact with people closer to you. With strangers, we generally want to appear kind, but with our families, they know us through and through, so we are more comfortable being ourselves. When we are with people we love, it is especially important to practice not being mean. When we are around people a lot, we spend a lot of energy trying to carve out a little space for ourselves. In creating that space, we may resort to little digs or outright screaming rages. It is important to pay attention to these situations and remind ourselves that no matter how we feel, there is no need to be mean to those we love.
Then there is us. We are not often intentionally mean to ourselves but when we are mean to others, we end up feeling the worst. Most of our suffering is caused by things we do. Practicing not being mean to others is a great kindness we can do for ourselves.
When we have eliminated being mean from our habitual behaviors, kindness will flow freely. That will be nice.