“The True Effect of Genuine Politeness Seems To Be Rather Ease than Pleasure.”

“The true effect of genuine politeness seems to be rather ease than pleasure. The power of delighting must be conferred by nature, and cannot be delivered by precept, or obtained by imitation; but though it be the privilege of a very small number to ravish and to charm, every man may hope by rules and caution not to give pain…”
— Samuel Johnson

Kindness! I think more and more about the significance of kindness for happiness.

* Flourish in Progress is a fascinating blog tracking a woman’s year without needless spending. I was thrilled to learn that this project was partially inspired by The Happiness Project. Happiness projects for everyone!

* The holidays are approaching fast. If you’re giving The Happiness Project as a gift, I’m happy to mail you a signed, personalized bookplate for the recipient. Or a bookplate for you! Just email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com; be sure to include your mailing address, because this is an actual thing that I’ll mail to you. Feel free to ask for as many as you’d like (they’re free).

  • LivewithFlair

    Oh, I like this. Can unkind people be happy? Why are happy people always kind? I even like the word, “kind.” It’s. . . kind. One of my students is writing a memoir about the middle school years when she was the most popular girl in school. She was mean, a bully, and horribly sarcastic. She told the class that she was so miserable because she was so unkind. She actually wrote apology letters to girls from that year. Kindness is good for our happiness. http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com

  • Peninith1

    And if you can’t really summon the warmth for kindness, COURTESY will do just as well. I am very often impressed at the good effect of expressing oneself with courtesy–wish it were more the common coin of public life and every day transactions. Try writing a thank you note, the way you should, and you will be amazed at how good it makes you feel, and how appreciated the receiver feels. I hear a lot of complaining about the lack of courtesy, but less constant keeping of courtesy by adults and teaching it to children. Good boundaries, self control, proper appreciation, and giving other people their rightful place and space. What a concept! This is the BASIS for kindness and comes before it–we all owe one another courtesy!

  • jubilana


    A 3 part doco begins tonight on happiness in Australia. Looks promising and should bring a smile.

  • Hi Gretchen ~ I agree, kindness is essential to genuine happiness without a doubt!

  • Hello Gretchen,

    To be honest, I find it’s easier to be kind
    than not to be.

    When you are kind, you are authentically happy
    and this happiness breeds more happiness.

    The antithesis of happiness is anger and
    anger NEVER solves anything. Also beware
    that if anger does prevail, karma will avenge.

    Love much, be kind.

  • That’s a nice quote from a quotable chap (who wasn’t, himself, all that polite but that’s another story). I remember Kenneth Clarke’s little speech at the end of his Civilisation series, it was something like “I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people’s feelings by satisfying our own egos.” It’s a nice thought to have on a Monday morning! 🙂

  • Mamaearth

    When I was younger, I was much kinder than I am now. I got to a point in my job and in my life where I felt that kindness led to being taken advantage of rather than appreciated. Now I am relearning kindness – I am approaching it as something that makes me feel good whether others show what i deem to be proper appreciation or not. It took a while to realize that my happiness isn’t dependent on how others feel about my actions – it is about how I feel about my actions.

  • I have always said that it takes no less effort to be polite and lind than it does to be mean and snarly! That doesn’t even mean you have to be cheerful, just don’t look like you are going ot bite off someone’s head!
    You never know, though, what your smile may do for someone you come across. You could make their day 100% better just by smiling!

  • Genuine politeness versus non-genuine politeness in colloquial Spanish (¿Insultan los insultos? Descortesía auténtica vs. descortesía no auténtica en el español coloquial)

  • RB

    Years ago, I heard about an interview in which Audrey Hepburn talked about learning from her mother something to the effect that kindness is the root of good manners, which was a revelation for me. I was more reactive and less happy or calm when I was younger, and I find it easier and easier to be calm, patient and kind as I grow older and think back on what Audrey’s mother (and my mother) taught. I find that politeness, tolerance and patience somehow beget more of the same, almost without any effort on my part, that they are muscles that get stronger when they are exercised often, and that after a while, muscle memory makes them seem involuntary.

  • You got it Gretchen. Kindness does not cost as much as it blesses. It is, like encouragment, a force for good in this world of ours. thanks for yours.


  • Jdrdedman

    From my quote book:
    When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. Abraham Joshua Heschel
    Kind words are the music of the world. Frederick W. Faber
    A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.
    William John Bennett
    Wherever there is a human being , there is an opportunity for kindness. Seneca
    One who know how to show and accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.

  • David

    Some of your readers may be interested in my blog http://www.5thingstodotoday.com. See what you think. David