Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"No really, pink and green look good on you."


This weekend I found my self trying to explain to a friend the difference between being nice and being kind. My thoughts were a little rusty so I thought that it may be helpful to jot a few things down.

Perhaps as an example one could imagine an encounter with a close friend who has made a bad choice (for the sake of this experiment lets think of something trivial, such as getting a really bad hair cut, or purchasing an ugly outfit, but you could easily imagine a more serious circumstance.) The "nice" thing to do is to tell your friend that what ever they have done is ok, or even good. "No that shirt really looks good on you." This course of action would be taken out of the fear of hurting a friend's feelings, or self esteem. Niceness is concerned with the immediate response.

The kind action on the other hand would be to clearly but gently inform your friend of the glaring mistake that he has made. In order for this act of informing to count as actually kind the motivation needs to be one of genuine concern for your friend, for example feeling bad that people will be laughing at him as he wears his yellow and orange polka dot scarf, rather than being motivated by the pleasure that you can receive from belittling your friend's sense of self worth.

Interestingly it seems that an act of "niceness" is a very simple act which does not require any sort of internal disposition that matches an outer manifestation. Kindness on the other hand is more than just a simple external state of affairs, but rather it is contingent on a sort of integrity. Kindness engages the person as a whole.

At least that's my attempt at clarifying my thoughts.

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