‘Kind’ and ‘Nice’ – both four letter words of similar connotation. Yet, each of them express a very different emotion based on perception and intention. With three contrastive alphabets between them, the identical one is the prominent ‘I’. A single letter by itself, but the extent of its expression brings about the distinction between kind and nice. “How much of ‘I’ do I see in another?” – makes up for a very powerful comparison between them, that typical dictionary definitions fail to explain.
While one could say that kindness is constant niceness, it is much more than what a superficial phrase could express. Kindness derives its very essence from a deeper sense of empathy. It originates when we place what we think, what we say and what we do in perfect alignment. The unison of our thoughts, words and deeds. The look into the eyes of an innocent little child and one could deduce the true meaning of kindness. Bearing no inhibitions and pre-existing dictums to adhere to, true love in action is defined as kindness.
“Is my action classified as kind or just being nice?”, I have found myself asking many a times. When a lonely grandpa in a nursing home is visited by his family for the holidays, it was indeed ‘nice’ of them to pop by. When he is visited by strangers from a service organization voluntarily, it was truly ‘kind’ of them to come by and lift his spirits. Action being the same, the perception around it alters the definition of the act. While nicety relates to an action by itself, kindness reflects the intention behind it. Aside from the intention, the receiver of the act too dictates the overall perception. Ask a convict rebuilding his ground in society. A simple smile, instead of a harsh word from fellow beings may seem more than just being nice. The extent to which the doer manifests the ‘I’ in another and the extent to which the receiver experiences that ‘I’, designates the act as being kind or nice.
At surface level, it may seem that being nice is a prerequisite to being kind. Let’s take the examples of a mother who reprimands a child in order to correct him or someone who speaks up against the wrongdoings in the society. Barely perceived as ‘nice’ and in fact, explicitly harsh, their actions spell out kindness to themselves and the people around them. It truly stems from an inner state of benevolence. If niceness is an acquaintance, kindness is a true friend who builds our character and essentiality. A kind person will exude his or her inner nature, irrespective of circumstances.
With self-improvement always on my horizon, I find myself frequently asking “If niceness is not necessarily a prerequisite, how do I become kind?” There seems to be no guidelines on how one could be kind. I may not have a perfectly refined answer yet, but I’ve come to realize that akin to life skills, kindness is a quality that can be learnt with self-efforts regardless of where one starts. It begins when we replace “what am I going to get out of this?” with “what are we going to get out of this?”. Setting intentions that go beyond the realm of just ‘me’ is an act of selflessness and true kindness in the making. It becomes easier to inculcate when we decide to let go of the little things. It burgeons when we associate ourselves with a community or to a cause that is much greater than us. A simple act such as buying coffee for the person behind us in line, can cause a ripple effect. Giving more power to our heart, rather than our minds suffices to get the kindness wave up and rising.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”. Mark Twain succinctly articulates the powerful impact that kindness can contribute towards humanity. It is nice to be nice to others and it could be our first step of interaction while building a bond. However, kindness is taking that step forward to carry humanity as a whole to the next level of global peace and prosperity.
After all, it is not without reasoning and value that we get to be called manKIND.
Disclaimer: All graphics on this blog post and related social media channels were created using Canva by me, unless explicitly stated. The above article was written by me for an essay competition on the topic ‘Kind’ vs ‘Nice’ organized by ‘KIND snacks’ couple of years back. I did not qualify as a winner and did not receive any compensation for publishing my article on my blog. Just thought it would be ‘nice’ to share it with all and get the ‘kind’ thoughts rolling.