Be Nice. It Matters.

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

Several times a week, I walk past the Sunshine Flowers deli at the corner of 62nd and Lexington.

Every time I go by, I smile and get a bit of a boost to keep my happiness resolutions when I see the handwritten admonition on the side of the flower case to “Be nice.”


One of my Twelve Personal Commandments is to “Be polite and be fair.” I adopted that personal commandment years ago. I was about to get a promotion, and I was worried about whether I’d be able to do the job well. I mentioned this concern to my boss, and she said sternly, “Be polite and be fair. Then you’ll do fine.” I’ve always remembered that.

It’s important to “Be nice,” too. Henri-Frederic said the same thing, in a slightly more flowery way, “Life’s short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.”

* I loved this video — a musician took a photograph of birds on wires, and read it as a piece of music. The harmony of nature.

* Need a good book? Please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

  • LivewithFlair

    Somebody told me: You don’t have to like everybody, but you have to be nice to everybody. Kindness is underrated in our society; I’m so glad you reminded us today!

  • I like how being nice makes me feel good. In that sense it is a little selfish to be nice to people I don’t really like. But in a good way. 🙂

    However, I make no compromises. I’m never nice to people who hurt me or someone I care about. Many women I know need to learn not to be nice all the time! 🙂

  • jenny_o

    Be kind (or be nice) are the two words I try to live by. I don’t always succeed, and as Marthe points out, sometimes it is unwise to do so, but most of the time this is the reference point for my choices.

  • It’s amazing how this simple adage can brighten up our lives. I try to remember to leave everyone I see in a better mood than when I found them. A smile, a laugh, a compliment, a hug, a kiss are all great ways to make someone’s day (your own!).

  • Guru Eduardo

    Being kind is greatly underated. Kindness is the expression of love. And it goes beyond being kind to just humans. We should be kind to everything and everyone, living or dead. If we love life, it will love us back..

  • Simple advice, but very powerful. That bird video is also great. Makes me wonder what other music is hidden in the world around us!

  • Beware – I am about to climb on my soapbox.
    I am not a fan of the word nice, although agree that behaving in the way you have outlined has benefits for you and others that we connect and have contact with in our worlds..and makes the world a more friendly place . I do my best to “show up” in the world as someone who is kind and considerate – warm hearted, helpful, thoughtful and understanding. The same qualities that you described as being nice but with a different shift on emphasis. Being nice (especially when used to describe girls or women) is often promoting qualities like being agreeable, pleasant, conciliatory…qualities that I don’t view as strong or helpful for girls as they evolve.

    • ophelia

      I agree that “nice” has connotations of being doormat-esque, but this is not what is meant here. A pleasant demeanor is a powerful thing, but nobody is suggesting that we take unwarranted abuse. I find that if abusive people aren’t embarrassed by my courteous responses to their rantings, I give them something even worse; I give them my pity.

  • Joless

    Wow, I have just started repeating ‘be nice’ to myself whenever I get irritated by people (this happens a lot at the moment as I hate my job and it’s making me irrational and angry at random things – yes, I am working on that!). It’s helping a bit as at least it makes me pause before my immediate reaction which stops me from making nasty comments or being hurtful. I hate being mean and want to be nice, so this is going some way to making life around me more pleasant.

  • BerniceWood

    Very true, Gretchen! What always gets me, is that it takes just as much effort to be kind as it does to be rude! So why not just make someone’s day by treating them with kindness?
    We don’t need to underestimate our power to make or break someone’s day. You never know what another person may be going through.


  • I like this! I always have felt that nice people finish last and sometimes it may not seem true but being nice has helped me more than I could imagine it. Thanks for reminding me to who I am inside.

  • krysten

    i feel happy that people are polite and nice to one another when not prompted to be told to be nice the most special gift that i have is the gift of politeness and i feel lucky to share my thoughts on this topic i am with the sweet group and i am happy to share my name is krysten and this is my thought