As I’ve mentioned several times over the years, every day has some sort of special designation.

And as I’ve also pointed out, many are pretty silly (often by design) and some are just plain stupid (sometimes not by design). But there are some that are actually at least somewhat worthy, like one that took place this week: National Be Nice Day (a.k.a. National Do Something Nice Day), which annually occurs on Oct. 5.

OK, so right now it would be easy to think about what a shame it is that anyone would have to be reminded to be nice, and that the subject would have such limited recognition that it needs a day named after it. But I think it’s safe to say that niceness isn’t nearly as widespread these days as it once was (kind of like the common sense isn’t very common), and any way it can be promoted should be viewed as constructive and having at least some amount of value.

That said, what exactly does behaving nicely entail? Considering the general state of the world these days, I’d say it wouldn’t be a bad idea for some guidelines to be provided to people who aren’t used to such behavior.

The obvious recommendations for would include things you can “do,” like smile, hug a friend, pay for someone’s coffee and donut, hold a door open for someone and stuff like that. But I feel led to offer some suggestions of what “not to do” in the name of niceness.

When you get the urge to explain to someone why someone else is such a bad person, don’t.

When you’re driving and you feel like speeding up or slowing down to make it difficult for someone else to make a move, don’t.

When your blood begins to boil and you feel like huffing out loud because the person the power cart is moving too slowly in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, don’t.

And when you want to criticize some ignorant nincompoop whose political viewpoints are “just wrong,” don’t.

Now, I realize that nobody reading this would ever consider doing things like that, but you get the idea.

Anyway, The Golden Rule basically states, “do to others as you would have them do to you.” That’s actually a Biblical principle (from Matthew 7:12) and means acting in a manner that’s courteous, respectful, gracious, polite, sympathetic and empathetic toward your fellow humans – or more simply, generally being friendly and nice.

While some people might deny it, the fact is nobody desires for people to be mean toward them and everyone would rather have others be nice to them.

I submit to you that with enough repetition, being nice could even be habit-forming. And I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be nice about that.

Honestly, why not be nice? I would even argue it’s most often easier than the alternative.

And I also believe that if growth, gain or achievement is someone’s goal, being nice is by far the best way to reach that objective.

So again, why not be nice? I can’t think of a reason not to, and I like the idea of celebrating National Be Nice Day 365 times each year.

Oh, and be sure not to let June 1 go by without celebrating National Say Something Nice Day.

Even if it doesn’t come naturally.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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