NICE Manifesto

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I had such a wonderful time teaching from The Wisdom of a Broken Heart this past week in D.C., N.Y., Toronto, and Montreal (where the book is called La Sagesse d’un Coeur Brisé which makes it sound so pretty). Over and over, I’m struck by the deep well of tenderness that resides in each of us and how a broken heart puts you squarely in touch with that tenderness, like it or not. I truly believe we are born to respect this tenderness; to be kind and expect kindness. Clearly, the world doesn’t always encourage that, but the moment you extend kindness to another, their own kindness is called forth. Kindness can and will and does change the world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “my religion is kindness” and it’s not because he’s some kind of wimp. It’s because he knows that this is how to bring peace to our war-torn, aggression-fueled world where people use fundamentalist scare tactics to incite us to be kind only to those who agree with us–and to consider the rest as barely human. This makes me cry pretty much every, single, solitary day of my life.

I just wish we could all be nice to each other is my constant refrain. But how? Especially when there are those who equate “nice” (or decent, kind, humane, tolerant…whatever word you prefer) with sloppy loser-ness? Au contraire, my friends. Real niceness is not sloppy, it is sharp. Because to be genuinely nice, you have to pay very close attention to who and what is around you, otherwise your niceness is according to code and not to whomever is standing in front of you. And loser-y? Far from it, in fact the farthest you can get from it. To be nice (kind, decent, etc) is predicated on opening your heart and letting the world touch you, without agenda and without judgment–and then responding to humanity with humanity. This takes exceptional courage and intelligence. I mean think about it.

So if it’s not about being all oh I’m so nice to everyone I always put myself last, (gag) then what is it about? And how do you do it? I suggest signing

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The NICE Manifesto
Please print (or take a screen shot) and (electronically) sign. Feel free to add more stipulations.

I, ___________________, being of sound(ish) mind and body, do hereby commit to the path of NICE, fully recognizing that NICE could mean any number of things and is not merely (nor will it ever be limited to) exhibiting sweetness. In addition to sweet and depending on circumstance, NICE could require one to be tough, giving, angry, remote, strong, generous, and/or soft.

I know being NICE can change our world into a peaceful one. To demonstrate my commitment, I agree to the following:

1. I recognize that only by being aware in the present moment will I know which kind of NICE to be and so recognize that the path of awareness and the path of NICE are inseparable.

2. I will exhibit extreme good manners, even when no one is watching. Good manners include (but are not limited to) qualities such as friendliness, generosity, patience, discipline, respect, discernment, dressing appropriately, and always, always cleaning up after myself.

3. When encountering those who disagree with me I will continue to view and treat them as human, no matter how barbaric or threatening I may consider their views. This means not wishing they were dead or thinking such things as, “The world would be so awesome were it not for _______ (Sarah Palin, Michael Palin, Islamists, Feitishists, Night fears, Stephen Frears, Darwinians, North Carolinians, Psychiatrists, Physiatrists, Bad drivers, Noisy neighbors, Townies, Junkies, Flunkies, Spelunkers, Circus Buskers, Motherfuckers, People who like Justin Bieber, and so on).

4. I will practice speaking clearly, honestly, and skillfully, which means also knowing when to shut up. When others are speaking, I will not use that time to think of what I will say next, but will instead give myself over to listening completely, fully, and properly.

5. I acknowledge that love is the most important thing in life and vow to give my heart away at the least provocation.

Signed: _______________

Date: _________________

The first person to email me back 5 signed manifestos wins a free copy of my book, The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.

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21 Comments

  1. twinum { 04.26.10 at 1:56 pm }

    I don’t know how to take a screen shot or electronic signature. Sadly.

    BUT, I agree and am printing and signing it. Next, I’m placing it straight ahead of me on the wall above my desk to remember to implement daily.

  2. susan { 04.26.10 at 7:44 pm }

    Thank you, twinum! Here’s to NICE…

  3. Maribeth { 04.26.10 at 9:47 pm }

    I’m trying to think why being nice became so out of vogue and boring. It’s truly sad! I love this essay and I feel so blessed that I saw it today. I do so wish we could all be nice to each other. I will open my heart and let the world touch me and pray that I can receive it with humility and give it back a 100-fold.

    • susan { 04.26.10 at 9:49 pm }

      I have no doubt that you can do this, Maribeth.

  4. Marianne { 04.27.10 at 5:40 pm }

    I’m in.

    My grandmother always told me that kindness was the most important thing to cultivate in myself and look for in a partner. I believe she was right.

    I used to hang out at a trendy, popular bar in town with a group of close women friends. We’d meet for our book club there and the staff got to know us. One day I wasn’t there and the manager said to my friends, “You know your friend Marianne? All our staff agree she has the nicest manners.” When I heard I was thrilled. I was not the coolest, not the hottest, not even the smartest – but I had the nicest manners, which mostly means being kind. My grandmother would have been proud!

  5. Maria { 05.06.10 at 9:29 am }

    Thank you for this! I will definitely be printing this for my best friend (and boss) and me. We have for the past year been practicing true compassion and kindness in our small town coffee shop we work at. It has been such a blessing to us and hopefully our customers. And we have learned such patience for others and ourselves just through being kind. This post has shown me that it is time to take my ‘niceness’ everywhere (especially home) with me, and not just to work

  6. ellen { 09.08.10 at 5:16 am }

    I, Ellen Geerlings, being of soundish mind and body, do hereby commit to the path of NICE, fully recognizing that NICE could mean any number of things and is not merely (nor will it ever be limited to) exhibiting sweetness. In addition to sweet and depending on circumstance, NICE could require one to be tough, giving, angry, remote, strong, generous, and/or soft.

    I know being NICE can change our world into a peaceful one. To demonstrate my commitment, I agree to the following:

    1. I recognize that only by being aware in the present moment will I know which kind of NICE to be and so recognize that the path of awareness and the path of NICE are inseparable.

    2. I will exhibit extreme good manners, even when no one is watching. Good manners include (but are not limited to) qualities such as friendliness, generosity, patience, discipline, respect, discernment, dressing appropriately, and always, always cleaning up after myself.

    3. When encountering those who disagree with me I will continue to view and treat them as human, no matter how barbaric or threatening I may consider their views. This means not wishing they were dead or thinking such things as, “The world would be so awesome were it not for _______ (Sarah Palin, Michael Palin, Islamists, Feitishists, Night fears, Stephen Frears, Darwinians, North Carolinians, Psychiatrists, Physiatrists, Bad drivers, Noisy neighbors, Townies, Junkies, Flunkies, Spelunkers, Circus Buskers, Motherfuckers, People who like Justin Bieber, and so on).

    4. I will practice speaking clearly, honestly, and skillfully, which means also knowing when to shut up. When others are speaking, I will not use that time to think of what I will say next, but will instead give myself over to listening completely, fully, and properly.

    5. I will take good care of myself, keep practicing meditation and try and be less judgemental about myself and others.

    6. I acknowledge that love is the most important thing in life and vow to give my heart away at the least provocation.

    Signed: Ellen Geerlings
    Date: 8th September 2010

  7. Susan { 10.02.10 at 11:01 am }

    Thank you for signing, Ellen.

    How are you? Hope you are well!

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