Monday, August 20, 2007

Niceness.....

Sometimes when it seems I least deserve it, someone comes along and gives me one of these acknowledgments.

It reminds me to go back to my roots, in a manner of speaking. It reminds me to stick with what I know is right. I do know what is right. Sometimes I just allow myself to behave as though I don't.

Painted Maypole acknowledged me on her blog. Coming from her, it really meant something, particularly given that she is someone whom I can't even recall using a swear word, let alone express mean thoughts. She is always pleasant, even when she addresses a difficult topic. She expresses those things without climbing into the mud pile. Thank you, Maypole. This was a good reminder for me, the timing was excellent and you set a good example. :)

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Looking at the issue of niceness with the wide angle lens:

There's being nice. And there's being nice.

For women, this is a gnarly issue because the social expectations placed on us have included a requirement that we always be "nice". We should never shout. We should never speak up. We should always smile. We should always be warm and loving. The misuse of the term was used as a battering ram to keep us in place, to keep us compliant.

Maybe it's time to reclaim the word and broaden it in a way that fits for us now.

Being nice should mean that we speak our truth with regard for the feelings of others but not at the expense of authenticity. It means we take a breath before we decide that being "authentic" includes the possibility of offending or hurting each other.

Being nice means that we always try to use words that do not wound, that bring no harm to other people, animals or the environment. This includes listening to ourselves for expressions and slang that diminish or put down any of those things.

Being nice means not wishing ill will on another, even when our humanness leads us down that path. It means avoiding thoughts of revenge.

As someone put it many years ago, I now disremember who, "Say what you mean, mean what you say but don't say it mean."

Nice is the wrapping paper around kindness.

That is the operational definition I used as I thought of how to pass this along.

As always, there are too many people who deserve this acknowledgment, for so many reasons. I am very fortunate that the majority of people who surround me, both in the blogging community and in my personal life, are nice people. They keep me on the straight and narrow. They keep me mindful. And I am grateful for the times they've gathered around me, even when I've stumbled and fallen rather ungraciously.

Thank you for accepting me ~ even in my glaring imperfection.

I've chosen not to tag for this one because there are simply too many and it began to hurt a bit, trying to narrow it down to only seven... so this time I am going to pass on the passing on in that fashion.

I would encourage everyone who reads this to claim it, in all its implications ~ and maybe write about it one day? What niceness means to you? Maybe we can spread it around that way.

(palms together) Thank you, everyone.

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22 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

I've seen this one going around too, very nice. And I like how you broaden it, esp. that little quip about say what you mean etc.

Perhaps people can nice tag one another in comments or something.

Sober Briquette said...

You mean, we're not off to the Riviera?

(I saw that Maypole awarded you. Congratulations.)

jen said...

i saw that too and thought how well deserved it was. being nice...the simple act of kindness can mean so much and that is something you spread around the blogosphere freely.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, how lovely and fitting that you were chosen for this acknowledgment as you are one of the most conscious people I know. You seem to be particularly aware of how your words and actions can affect others, and to choose them carefully.

Your ideas about expanding the definition of "nice" resonate with me perfectly as most of my life, I was told to "be nice" as a way of keeping me in line. That meant always putting others first, even to my own detriment, and never questioning authority, which was usually a euphemism for "males."

But avoiding thoughts of revenge -- are you sure there isn't a loophole on that one?

KC said...

this is the 2nd post i've read today that have given the award to everyone....that's niceness for you!

slouching mom said...

Heh. KC beat me to the point I was planning to make.

Well deserved, Chani.

Laurie said...

Very well deserved.

Hugs,
Laurie

painted maypole said...

you are so welcome. As with all your topics, you have great things to say about "nice," and I agree wholeheartedly that we need to reclaim it from the constraints it places on us, and rather use it to free us to move forward with kindness to others and ourselves.

mitzh said...

You certainly deserved it!
CONGRATULATIONS!

Snoskred said...

In Australia we have biscuits which are named "Nice" but you're supposed to pronounce it like Neece.

Consequently when I was younger I took to calling the word "nice" a biscuit word. It's a word that covers a huge range of things in four little letters. It sums things up well. But I was always careful not to use it if all the possible definitions of it did not apply.

Nice from thesaurus.com - not sure when they added "phat" in there, and not sure that should be in there!!!

You do deserve it. You are not *just* nice, though. ;) I could get into listing all the other stuff but where would I begin and end?

All I can say is, I am so thankful my travels on the internet somehow led me to find you - and so many of the other people here in this community. Every single day I consider how lucky and blessed I have been by finding ya'all.

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

River said...

My mother often said "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all". Kind of explains why I sometimes don't talk much. Heh-heh.

Blog Antagonist said...

I think nice is highly underrated these days, so I think this award is a lovely idea.

Nice here in the South is a confluence of disingenuousness. Everybody is nice.

Christine said...

thank you, chani, for always being an inspiration to me. you speak your mind and always doing it with grace and kindness. you are truly nice chani, and we love you for that.

Cecilieaux said...

Let me throw out the discordant note. "Nice" is often enough merely a saccharine cover for other sentiments.

Many women, taught to be passive, tend to assert themselves through passive aggression. (Many men, too, particularly in educated circles; nothing more passive aggressive than the jockeying in a university faculty lounge or a monastery refectory.) It all amounts to backstabbing with a smile.

I distrust the word "nice." What does it mean? Everything and nothing. I would ban the word.

bohemiangirl said...

I know what you mean about the blogging community. Blogging, for some reason, makes me want to be a better person. It helps me focus on the good in life and I want to share that feeling. Thank you for doing the same on your blog. I would be hard pressed to come up with what nice means to me because you just defined it so perfectly. Namaste.

MsLittlePea said...

I think you're right Chani, maybe it IS time to reclaim the word. Now that I've read it, I'm thinking of making some kind of plaque for the wall that says,Say what you mean, mean what you say but don't say it mean. I like that.

blooming desertpea said...

Congrats! You certainly deserve the award. I wouldn't be reading your blog if you weren't "nice".

But I have to agree with cecilieaux on this. The word nice isn't appropriate for what the award wants to express. The word nice has this negative aftertaste - I associate an evil grin behind a smiling face to the word. "Nice" is like being forced to say a good thing when you don't really want to. Do I make any sense?

So, I would never say that you're a nice person. I would choose interesting, intriguing, intelligent (why do all these words start with an "i"?) excentric, exotic and peaceloving person. What other word did I forget here ...:)

meno said...

When i first saw this award, i thought of you.

I am wary of nice because in my experience people can say "nice" things in a mean way. I prefer "kind, yet authentic."

One thought that i have always liked is: If you are being brutally honest, you must be sure that you are enjoying the honesty more than the brutality.

Cheers!

QT said...

Meno summed it up perfectly for me - I think genuine is an important component, and I think that is why you got the award.

Congratulations!

thailandchani said...

Julie, that would be a good idea, too. I like the idea of complimenting people in their comments. :)

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De, the Riviera sounds good to me! :)

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Jen, thanks. :) I try.

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Susan, there's nothing wrong with the word itself. It's just got all kinds of baggage attached to it.. but we can take it back. That old application doesn't work any more.

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KC, I saw that other post, too. I'm glad people are doing that. It could be a good discussion.

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SM, :) Thank you.

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Laurie, thank you. :)

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Maypole, exactly! In some cases, we can reclaim words and restore a positive meaning rather than a cynical one.

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Mitzh, thank you :)

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Snos, I would say it's a biscuit word in many respects, too. It can cover a lot of territory.

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River, LOL.. I can understand that one! But it's okay to be nice.. and still say something of substance.

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BA, yes, I've heard that about some southern customs. Isn't it "Oh, now isn't that special?"

Or is that the 90210 phrase?

I think I've conflated them.. but they're the same thing.

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Christine, thanks. :)

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Cecileaux, I think if someone's intent is to be deceptive or manipulative, just about any word will do.

Passive-aggression seems to be a defense against a social custom that demands a certain *type* of conversation over another.

Obligatory happiness... which is going to be a post one day.

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Bohemian, thanks. It's just the definition that came off the top of my head.

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MsPea, it was one of those axioms that someone threw out one day.. and it stuck. It really does summarize it.

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DesertPea, it can be used that way, certainly. But lots of words can be used to convey a message that wasn't originally intended... and doesn't jibe with the true definition of the word.

It is very general, I agree. But sometimes it's hard to think of the "just right" word to describe the basic act of being pleasant.

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Meno, I like that saying, too. And I agree that "nice" can be misused. Usually it's fairly obvious when someone is doing that though.

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QT, thanks. :) I try to be genuine. In fact, it's not always a good thing.. but it's the only way I know how to be. It gets me in trouble sometimes. :)

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Peace,

~Chani

Open Grove Claudia said...

Hey congratulation! :) WHOO HOO!

thailandchani said...

Thanks, Claudia :)



Peace,

~Chani