Everyone could use an extra bit of kindness. These days, it feels like there is negativity around every corner. Why are we so mean to one another? Why don’t we treat others with unconditional kindness?
Especially on difficult days, being nice to others can be immensely challenging. Sometimes we just aren’t in a good mood, and that accidentally gets projected onto the people around us.
That’s normal and valid; feeling your feelings is necessary, even if those feelings influence your actions.
But what about the days when people are mean for seemingly no reason? Of course, everyone has struggles they don’t talk about openly. What is not okay, though, is taking out your frustrations and struggles on others on purpose for your own benefit or pleasure.
Much of the rudeness I have seen on campus particularly comes from Yik Yak. There, users can post anonymously and seemingly without consequence, calling students and professors out by name to talk badly about them or to spread gossip and hatred.
This is not limited to social media, though. In the classroom, class discussions have been getting more and more out of hand. Instead of having productive debates or discussions, some students resort to bullying, intimidation, and name-calling.
Every student who contributes to class discussions wants to be heard and understood and taken seriously; so why do we judge classmates who dare to speak up? Why do we make them feel embarrassed for sharing their thoughts? Instead, we should listen to learn, not to respond. If you’re only listening to respond, you’re not really listening.
We need to work on being nicer to our professors just as much as our fellow classmates. Our professors often have a schedule that is just as busy, if not more so, as ours. Even on days that we disagree with our professors, we need to keep in mind that they, too, have lives outside of school and struggles they don’t discuss. They are all here to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and we should be grateful that we have such dedicated professors.
I understand, though, that no one is perfect. Even I slip up sometimes and allow my feelings to negatively influence my actions; my eyes sometimes flutter in class, I look bored during lectures, I ignore texts and assignments, and I cancel plans. If you’re the same way, that is valid and okay. Nonetheless, we all need to work on handling our feelings in a way that doesn’t negatively affect someone else—or ourselves—in the long-run.
One way we can start being nicer to each other is to practice approaching others with curiosity instead of judgment. Instead of judging someone for their outfit choice, replace those judgments with the recognition that they may feel most comfortable in that outfit, or that you would not want to be judged for what you’re wearing.
Instead of judging someone for their daily routine or sleep schedule, try asking yourself why they might have that routine or what might be impacting their sleep schedule. Everyone is different for different reasons; we should not judge them purely because they might behave differently than us.
We need to also practice gratitude. Rather than feeling irritated by the differences between yourself and others, be grateful that there is a variety of diverse people around you that you can learn from, including opportunities to learn about other cultures, ideas, ideologies, or lifestyles. We can learn a lot from each other when we suspend judgment.
While we have all been taught to treat people the way we want to be treated, I argue that we should treat people the way they want to be treated. Not everyone will respond to your humor the same way; not everyone will agree with the way you decide to handle a situation. Rather than assuming they want to be treated the way you do, consider the person you’re talking to and find a way to treat them that will make them most comfortable.
Before we can be nicer to others, though, we need to work on being kinder to ourselves. The more we ruminate on our own insecurities, the more likely we are to project them onto the people around us. For instance, if you’re insecure about your weight, you might judge others or feel resentment toward those who look the way you want to look. By practicing acceptance, you can overcome insecurities and, in turn, limit the time you spend judging and projecting onto others.
Being kind really isn’t hard. We can all do better, and we should do better. We all desire to be accepted, appreciated, celebrated, and loved. So why do we not accept, appreciate, celebrate, and love each other?