Nice as an adjective/concept gets a bit of a ‘bad rep’, don’t you think? It seems to be synonymous with weakness, ‘Ooh she’s TOO nice’-that kind of thing, that it’s not cool to be kind (well, it flipping is)… I consider myself a nice person, bar the moody cow I become for a day around my period (then I’m not so sure) but bar that hormonal hiccup I’d say I’m a fair, kind and compassionate person. I’m fun to be around (I’m always the first on the dance floor and I’ll drop anything for my mates). Some people might confuse my confidence for arrogance, my ambition for self-centredness but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Read Reece Witherspoon’s cover piece in Glamour to know that equating ambition with ruthlessness is utter baloney.
I was a born performer and storyteller, the stage and writing and filmmaking feels like home to me. I need to unleash and channel my creativity. That’s who I am. But I was serve, inform and entertain others. Most of all, I hope to inspire and encourage people to change their lives or feel better about themselves. That’s what drives me.
When it comes to friendship, my oldest friends are my closest, those I’ve known since I was a kid but I’m also that girl who makes friends everywhere I go (being loud with big hair, helps, people tend to be drawn to me).
So what’s this post about you’re wondering? Get on with it girl, I hear you cry…
A good mate of mine and I were chatting over the concept of kindness, the other day, and how whilst we’ve been on the receiving end of some down-right nastiness, mostly from other women sadly (you know the drill: bitchiness and her bestie, passive aggression), for the most part, the majority of people I surround myself with are good eggs: they have integrity, are open and kind but like me, they take no bull and are a little bit kick-ass.
They know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it. To show up, be themselves and not sweat what others think of them.
This isn’t a coincidence. It’s comes from sorting the wheat from the chaff.
My gut doesn’t lie. Nor does yours.
I’m also in possession of a some sort of sixth-sense about a fair few things and find myself in tune with people easily. So much so, I’ve known when others were pregnant when they didn’t know themselves (even people I’d just met) and when people close to me have been in trouble…I can also instantly tell who genuinely likes me and who doesn’t (I can read dis-ingenuity a mile off, and 99% of the time, I can read people like a book).
Despite this ‘superpower’ which most of us possess but choose to ignore, I still like to give people the benefit of the doubt/chances because that’s fair and people change. Two strikes, though and they’re out. Similarly, I tolerate low-key shizz because you have to choose your battles right, and we’re all just human.
I think my many years as a director both in drama and documentary, fine-tuned how perceptive I am when it comes to people, as my job was to pull together a narrative/ lead my vision and draw out stories/performances particularly in drama that had integrity and felt truthful.
A great piece of drama is one where you can’t see the performance. Actors shouldn’t be acting with a capital A, if you like. In the same way, you mustn’t see the direction, that’s not the sign of a great director, you as the audience should be pulled into the story through character and plot. The whole scene and the workings behind it, must be invisible.
I digress. After that huge essay, let’s get back to being nice. The quality that should come so easily, yet doesn’t for everyone.
Question whether you’re consistently nice and if not, make a change.
Are you consistently kind to others, PMT aside and even then, you can read this to help with your moods. Ask yourself whether you’re empathetic, understanding and importantly, forgiving of others because we all mess up, overreact, act-up at times in life because we’re all human and have weaknesses/PMT! You need to forgive yourself too.
To be frank, there’s a lot of deluded people in the world who believe they’re nice when in actual fact, behind closed-doors they relentlessly b**** about others, taking enjoyment in putting people down. This behaviour manifests, mostly because whomever they’re scolding that poses some sort of threat to them or shines a light on their own insecurities. Rather than admit that to themselves and work on the areas they indeed emulate/envy, they opt for character-assassination over personal growth. If this sounds like you, then check yourself before you wreck yourself and upset others for no good reason.
If you’re in this jealous/b***** vicious cycle, then stop. Right now. Stop talking badly about others. Stop putting people down. Let people be their glorious, individual selves. Question why you feel the way you do. If someone has hurt you but it’s worth saving the relationship, rather than walking away, speak frankly to them, expressing your feelings and pain. Discuss how you feel and listen to their side of the story too.
B****** will always make you feel worse, so rather than taking the coward’s way, talk to that person or cut them out of your life and move on. Also, if you hear others being bitchy, call it out.
I’m always honest hence the name. Not everyone appreciates honesty but real bonds will only strengthen from it.
In short, be a nice person. If you need to work on your empathy levels, read Lajos Egri’s famous The Art of Dramatic Writing (a seminal text I would also add to my reading list when teaching MA Screenwriting) as there’s nothing quite like it that offers insight into character and action like this does.
When it comes to walking away…know this, I was always the girl who gave others chances but since kids have come along, my patience and time has become limited. My energy is precious. Nobody’s got time for nastiness or weirdness (you know the way you have to unravel behaviour that doesn’t feel normal: mind games and pseudo friendship). You don’t need to tolerate it. Be polite, be professional if you are forced to work with others you don’t like or respect but keep focused about what and whom matters.
Also, know that what other people think of you is NOT fact as my gloriously wise friend, renowned actress and now vlogger, Harriet Thorpe reminded me of recently. Harriet you are a great friend and your wisdom endlessly improves my life. Thank you x
Helping others is a reciprocal act, it will make you feel 1789954643 x better about yourself and helps to give you purpose. Work out how you can be of service to others and stop focusing on your own ego. It’s both liberating and joyful to take the emphasis away from yourself and see others smile/laugh or feel valued by your work or input. It’s addictive, even.
Nice people don’t fear saying ‘sorry’. I’m teaching Oliver, 7, that he must learn to apologise with ease, especially when it comes to his brother, Xander, 4. Admittedly, Oliver struggles with apologies so we’re working on it everyday as it’s vital he knows when he’s done wrong (which he does but doesn’t always admit it) but he also must make amends for it too. There’s a lot of adults who could do with practising this too.
Have you noticed that nice people are busy getting on with in their own lives, seeking out the joy in everyday and being generally positive people? You can train yourself to become more optimistic and happier. Your brain is malleable and plastic and can be rewired and remoulded-just start today. That doesn’t mean if you’re feeling depressed or anxious you mustn’t ask for help and support or medication if you feel you need it, but you can help yourself with exercise, positive affirmations, surrounding yourself with positive energy and remembering that, ‘this too shall pass’ even when you’re feeling at your worst. (I know, I’ve been there).
It’s easy to compare yourself to others but you’re a one-off, so don’t forget it. Social media is but a slither of reality and it’s worth remembering that it’s human nature to focus on the brighter parts of life- we all do it. Whilst healthy comparison is positive as it can highlight your own goals and serve to spur you on, it’s vital not to let it tear you down and ramp up the imposter syndrome. If people’s handles online make you consistently feel crap, then scroll on by, unfriend or unfollow. Life is far too short to feel awkward or miserable.
It’s a sad fact that we tend to only feel TRULY grateful when BAD things happen in life, reminding us of the good. Practising being grateful really does unlock happiness. It allows you to pause and reflect on everything you have in the NOW making you more mindful. Take time to write a list of all you have to be grateful for or say a prayer before bed to help reset negativity.
So that’s it, my guide on how to be kind and improve yourself. We’re all constantly learning, growing and developing so don’t forget that fact.
I spent my childhood expecting to find that ALL grown adults would be decent human beings who would consistently do the right thing and lead by example. Sadly, we all know that’s not the case (and to be fair Roald Dahl did his best to prepare us all didn’t he) yet we must continue to strive to be nice ourselves. We have that responsibility to our kids as much as to ourselves.