Sugar & spice, everything nice. Not so much.
Has my meditation practice made me nicer? Gratefully, no. I suffered from niceties for a good while. Somehow I grew up believing that I needed to be nice. Nice meant pleasing others, while I sometimes took a backseat. Trust me, this only goes so far before it devolves into aggravation, depletion and inauthenticity. In fact, the origin of the word nicety in latin is nescius or ignorant, and it emerged in the 14th century as a term for foolish or silly.
My mantra instead is honest and kind. Honesty requires taking a deep look inward and outward, where nice often bypasses the inner world. Honesty begets us to ask what am I truly feeling and believing? As well, what is the reality of the moment? What is true? Our beliefs and emotions are real, but not always true of the moment. For example, I may feel that someone is being critical of me. Perhaps this is an old story resurfacing. Maybe what is being offered is simply an observation, not criticism. Kindness then asks me to hold what I discover with a gentle embrace, including the old patterns and the reality of the moment. Like most things in life, being with and expressing our truths with kindness is a skill that requires time, intention and attention.
Being honest and kind feels way more dependable and sustainable. It is not always easy, especially in relationships, but people can count on your integrity. That is huge. They may not always like what you have to offer, but truth in of itself is reliable beyond liking and disliking.
I can already see how at times my girls succumb to being nice in favor of being true to themselves. Whenever I am able, I ask them to discern between what feels nice and what feels honest and kind. I am thankful they navigate through these very same discussions at school. These inquiries are essential to living a life that feels authentic and sustainable, and one that requires a lifetime of practice.
So what are little girls (and boys) made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice? Not so much. Honesty and kindness are way more worthy of us than simple niceties.