skip to content
Logo Logo Nick Hodges

The most selfish thing I do

/ 3 min read

I’ve always been a pretty nice person. Or at least I like to think so. I don’t recall ever choosing to be purposefully mean.

But then it occurred to me: I also don’t recall every being actively nice.

A few years ago, I decided that I was going to start being actively nice. I wanted to start to go out of my way to be nice and kind to people. I’d smile, look people in the eye and render a cheery thank you. I’d be patient, actively friendly, and just slightly too nice to customer service people, both in person and on the phone. I’d go out of my way to express gratitude and give a compliment. I’d always fill out the survey at the end of the call with rave reviews.

Now this took a bit of courage. I’ve always been a bit introverted. My personal nightmare was always “Let’s break up into small groups and discuss it!” Yuk. So all of this didn’t come naturally to me. But I wanted to do it, and so I did, and I found a few interesting things.

Being actively nice seemed to please other people. That extra thanks, that bonus bit of gratitude seemed to make the day of the receiver. What had often been an unpleasant phone conversation with a front line customer service about a problem turned into a delightful experience when I took the approach that this person was doing me a great kindness in helping me. Added bonus: people who get yelled at all day will go the extra mile for you when you are actively nice and thankful for their help.

I also found that it made me feel great. Having a pleasant interaction with another person was heartwarming. Knowing that I put a smile on someone’s face made me feel warm and fuzzy. And just being pleasant feels great — a real mood booster. It soon became a virtuous cycle, and being actively nice makes everything in an even tough day seem better.

And in the end, I realized something — being actively kind to others might actually be the most selfish thing I do. It sounds super corny, but it doesn’t take much effort at all to make someones day, and it will make your day ten times over. Quite the paradox.