Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.Seneca
Being nice and being kind are two virtues that are highly advantageous to cultivate. They both involve developing the capacity to think of others and be respectful and sensitive towards them. Although their definitions might seem similar, there is a critical difference between them.
Being nice is focused on politeness and courtesy, whereas being kind is exchanging care, concern, and generosity with those around us. In this modern world, we all need more of these traits while striving to navigate our lives and relationships in an increasingly complex world.
Kindness is placed under the umbrella of justice, one of the four cardinal virtues that Stoics believe need to be cultivated to live a virtuous life. Stoic philosophy highlights the importance of being kind as a fundamental virtue. It is essential to being a good person since it involves treating others fairly and empathetically. Being nice, however, is seen as less important; while it can help us build relationships and remain on good terms with others, it often focuses too much on pleasing others and avoiding conflict. Practicing kindness over niceness should thus be our aim if we wish to make moral progress, according to Stoicism.
Nice vs. Kind.
Niceness is an act. Niceness, however, can be rooted in kindness. Kindness is a character trait.
We have been given the power of choice, and with that comes the responsibility of being kind. To be kind is to always act in a way that will benefit someone or something else. It’s not just about looking good or garnering approval from those around us; it’s an understanding that living our principles includes caring for and helping others. Being kind is a conscious decision we make, and based on how we act every day, we can positively impact the world around us without expecting anything in return.
Stoic philosophy presents useful distinctions in understanding different aspects of being kind and nice. To be both kind and nice means first having deeply embedded inner values in ourselves, which will lead us to express goodness in our behavior before we strive for any external kindness or niceness towards others. Moral integrity consists of taking ethical actions that reflect our inner virtues, such as being honest and fair. On the other hand, people can have moral worth; this conveys the strength of a person’s character, not just the outward performance of specific behaviors. It goes beyond action to encompass qualities like trustworthiness, sympathy, and empathy. Ultimately, moral worth is powerful because it nurtures the fundamental character from which further small behaviors are inspired.
Being nice is an expression of morality beyond simply doing what is right or wrong. At its core, it speaks to the kindness and compassion that a person can exhibit toward others. Yet too often, people misconstrue niceness as being morally good or virtuous. While acting out of good intentions is commendable, it is essential to remember that being nice can also stem from less noble motivations such as vanity, inadequacy, or a lack of confidence.
Being nice does not imply moral worth, yet it reflects upon the moral goodness of a person’s choices and values. As such, it serves as an important reminder of our capacity for empathy and understanding of one another.
We have so many choices to make throughout the day. We can always choose to be nice to others. Repeated acts of niceness may turn us into kind people. We are driven by good intentions and actionable behaviors that serve the greater good.